Justine: Your Intellectual Property Questions Answered

copyrightWhat a week it’s been in the romance writing world! In case you missed it, there is a huge uproar over #cockygate, or the trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series.

Background: Faleena Hopkins, the author of several books that have the word “Cocky” in the title, recently received an official trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series in both regular and stylized (meaning in a specific font) form from the US Trademark and Patent Office. You can view her filings here and here.

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Ms. Hopkins’ stylized trademark of the word “cocky.”

Ms. Hopkins has threatened other writers whose book titles also contain the word “cocky” with a lawsuit if they don’t change their titles. She’s also reported some authors to Amazon, telling the Zon that the authors were in violation of her copyright. Amazon took down the offending books at once. Romance Writers of America has hired an IP attorney and has asked Amazon to reinstate the take downs pending a legal challenge (Amazon agreed), and former IP attorney-turned-writer Kevin Kneupper has come out of retirement to Continue reading

Justine: Protecting Your Work Before You Copyright It

79097750 - autorship word cloud concept. vector illustrationThis past Friday, I attended a free webinar by the folks who do Masterclass (I had previously taken James Patterson’s class on writing and Aaron Sorkin’s class on screenwriting). The topic of the webinar was protecting your intellectual property before you copyright it, and it was presented in large part by folks who work for the Writer’s Guild of America West (WGAW…there is a sister organization, Writer’s Guild of America East. They do the same thing, but the organizations do not share information with each other).

I had always thought the Writer’s Guild was for screenwriters only, but it turns out any artist – as long as they can put their idea/story/script/play/lyrics on paper – can have their intellectual property protected. This topic is relevant to me right now because Continue reading

Michaeline: Organize your Notes with Artificial Intelligence

Modern computers can help you unravel the enigma that is going to be your novel. Use it to store -- and find -- your notes. (A Bombe computing device, via Wikimedia Commons)

Modern computers can help you unravel the enigma that is going to be your novel. Use it to store — and find — your notes. (A Bombe computing device, via Wikimedia Commons)

Almost every writer does research. Some are lucky enough to be able to keep it all in their heads, but most of us need to take notes. It doesn’t matter if your notes are about Regency era dresses, or aesthetically pleasing scale patterns for dragons. Our notes are important ways to help expand our memory capacity. And our computer age allows us to take a phenomenal number of notes! Letter-perfect copies, pasted into documents; PDFs downloaded and saved for leisurely perusal; and one of my currently favorite tools, PRTSC (aka the “print screen” button).

Sometimes a website will have a striking image or a pleasing pattern of text. Or maybe you’re just in a hurry, and don’t want to take the time to transcribe a passage of text on an image or PDF. Or maybe, you can’t copy and paste. This is when that button comes in handy.

By the way, I’m talking about using PRTSC for taking notes for personal use, which I think falls under fair use. As soon as you make those notes public in a blog or printed publication, you have to worry about copyright issues. More on that in a couple of paragraphs. Continue reading

Michaeline: Fair Use

“Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” T.S. Eliot in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism

Way back in the dark ages, when a Sony Walkman tape player was the height of technology, I was in journalism school and they talked about plagiarism, and scared the bejeezus out of us in Communication Law class. Plagiarism is one thing (and a very bad thing, both as an artist and as a consumer) but sometimes using other people’s words is the right thing to do on many levels.

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Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.” And then it was turned into a play. And then a movie. Actually a couple of movies.

This week, NPR’s Planet Money had a podcast that touched tangentially on fair use, and for some reason, my subconscious perked up and listened. I don’t think I’m planning any grand literary heist, but if I do this summer, Continue reading