Copyright Protection Questions and Answers

Copyright and copyright protection is a weird thing. Here’s how it works:

Once you create an original piece of work, you own the copyright until you sell those rights or die (lots of interesting details on the death part, but we won’t dwell on it).

Q: What guarantee do I have that I will receive credit for my own work?

None really. Although you can uphold a copyright claim in a court of law, the expense is almost never worth it. The movie and music industries are fighting this battle on a daily basis. However, before you put your work back on the shelf, I will tell you that the inherent goodness of people (or their overiding fear of prosecution) keeps most people from using your work and claiming ownership without your permission. At 1km1kt, one of the tenets of our site is actually to encourage people to take and republish elsewhere with the stipulation that they must give credit where it is due.

Q: Are there any preliminary steps I should take to secure my own work prior to submitting it to you?

You can put that little © thing and a date on it if you like (most people do), but it’s just a reminder for others – either way you still own the work. Owning a copryright to a piece of work means it’s illegal for someone else to copy it without your permission. That’s really all there is to claiming a copyright. If you really want to go crazy, you can do something to prove that you created the work first in case you ever go to court, like taking it to a notary.

These are just two of the high points – there’s more that goes on and this is not meant to be specific legal advice, but should be sufficient for most small press RPG game publishers. Theft of copyright is a fact of life, but I would encourage our readers to devote their time to making something worth stealing and showing it to the world rather than living in fear of having it taken from them. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that most of the time goodwill begets goodwill.

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