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Offline saphire_glade

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Copyrighting your Character
« on: November 17, 2009, 10:54:19 PM »
not sure if this is the right place.

But I have a character that I have been developing for 4 years. I have her exactly where I want her, but the life of a fairy means a lot of competetion for what you do. I have had a great idea and have everything in place... only to discover that there are people trying to steal it.

I was trying to get it on the copyright registry but I don't know how to go about doing this. Has anyone ever copyrighted a street character and their bit successfully other than Twig that could give me advice?
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Offline renfairephotog

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Offline DeadBishop

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2009, 11:49:11 PM »
The fact that you have been performing as, well, yourself, and that it's been documented, is a fairly substantial start. 
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Offline Prof. John Bull

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2009, 08:40:46 AM »
Copyright, by statute, applies only to those things which have been fixed in some sort of tangible medium.  Copyright protection can be obtained for a script, a drawing, a photograph, a musical score, a musical recording, or a video recording, but not for a live performance or the unique aspects of a character in a live performance.

One strategy is to incorporate a valuable character into a written script and leverage the copyright protection on that.  You have to think about what you're really trying to accomplish.  Copyright law is narrow and is not a magick amulet that wards off people trying to build upon what you've already done.

Offline justsomeguytn

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2009, 03:47:45 PM »
I'm no expert but I think one thing you might want to look into is registering parts of your character as trademarks.  I don't mean an arm or a leg but a unique costume, name, design of your wings, etc.  Then if you have any unique scripted pieces you do copyright them.  If you have a game you play with the kids write down a description of it and copyright it (you might even patent it).  For instance Amelia Quackston has a version of tic-tac-toe that she plays with rubber ducks.  With her character that would be copyrightable I think. 

Offline saphire_glade

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2009, 05:28:17 PM »
Thanks, I will give that a try. It is a specific way that I hand out something I call "Wish Bubbles" it is a scripted way to give a child a little of my magic.

You guys have been reallly helpful.

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Offline L Dale Walter

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2009, 11:30:44 PM »
More importantly than copyrighting your character is understanding what it will take to ENFORCE that copyright.  If you got ripped off, would/could you spend $20,000 to prove you are right?  That is often what it costs to bring such a case to court.  Even then, damages are hard to prove, and recovery would be equally so.

Being right is one thing, geting something to happen legally is another.

Offline Queen Maggie

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2009, 09:43:56 AM »
I don't know if this will have any relationship to your issue, but you will find that there are lots of bits out there that are extremely similar to one another: not necessarily because someone copies another, but because similar characters, stock characters(not stereotypical ones, though it can descend into that) often come up with very similar things to do/hand out/ say.  It is often because these aren't quite as unique a phrase as we sometimes hope we are inventing, because items are inexpensive and easily available, because a teacher or director has said the same thing to different students and they're both inspired in the same way...

There has been some issues taken with one or two actresses I know because one feels that she came up with certain handouts and phrases, and no one else should do them...but, sorry, those things aren't something anyone copied from you, they just happen to be fairly obvious to anyone who is playing a similar role.

On the other hand, when you hear someone else using the phrasing and lines that you developed for your own character, and doing the entire skit you wrote, well, that's bad manners among performers, but it is often (when coming from youngsters just starting) not understood as anything other than "ooo, I heard him say 'this' to the patrons and he got these great responses: I'll try that!" Such beginners have to be gently made aware that they are stealing someone else's work (usually because they admire said model) and that they need to develop their own schtick. Sadly, there is no way to enforce your rights. Mostly, if you are good enough at what you do, you get known for it, and the copycat cannot take your schtick and sell it as his/her own at a cheaper price to another faire....but it happens. Particularly when owners or ADs only care about bottom line.
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Offline aerial angels

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2009, 10:15:44 AM »
Queen Maggie's dead on here - realistically, it's not worth copyrighting, because it's going to cost you thousands if you want to enforce it, and even if you wanted to spend that kind of money, it would not make you look good among your peers. And she's right - there are a lot of bits that arise naturally from certain situations or characters, that aren't "original" to the world but are "original" to the person who just thought them up.

All you can really do is do your bits and your character so well and so strongly that if anyone else does the same thing, people will walk up to them and say, "Why are you doing that bit? That's so and so's bit." And if anyone is really egregiously copying you at a show where you're also performing, you might walk up to them and say, "Hey, I don't know if you realize this, but that's something I came up with, and I prefer to keep it unique so the patrons don't get the same bit twice."

A long time ago, I or my partner threw in a line we'd picked up from sharing a stage with another performer. Someone from the audience yelled out, "Hey, that's Broon's!" You can bet we never did that again :)

At the Edmonton Fringe this year, Gazzo turned up in the middle of the run, and it was hilarious watching the other three guys who do cups and balls frantically running to Wal-Mart to figure out something else to put under their cups, because Gazzo uses oranges and a melon, and once he got there it was "his" bit since he was the oldest and most experienced performer present using that bit, so as a courtesy, the other guys found other round things to do the bit with.


Offline saphire_glade

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2009, 06:48:01 PM »
Yeah.. figured out it isn't worth it. The problem is it was a more senior performer that took the bit, in my festival I have to ask permission to hand anything out as a fairy. So I asked permission to use the bit. She told me know, trained a rookie to be a street character and basically made my character in a different outfit. I am pretty upset by this... since she is the most absolutely protective actress for her own bits.

I guess I just get to hope that my festival management can see that this is not cool and that if I needed permission to use my own bit and was denied... the rookie should also be denied.
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Offline RSLeask

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 04:23:09 PM »
I guess I just get to hope that my festival management can see that this is not cool and that if I needed permission to use my own bit and was denied... the rookie should also be denied.

I'll relate to you a similar story from my own wanderings in the RPG realm.  I have a dwarf character that I play in a popular MMO.  Now, this is a character I began back in table-top gaming days more than a decade ago, and have morphed him a little when I have brought him over from one game world to the next, but the basic character and personality is the same.  When bringing him into the current game, I changed his backstory before launch even happened, and began using it immediately, which was 5 years ago.

About 2 years ago, I was walking through one of the main cities.  I was watching the conversations, and noted someone introducing themselves to a group of people with my character's clan name.  Even though they were not a part of that clan.  I stopped and watched.  Not without undue flattery, I noticed that every little bit of this person's backstory reflected my own character's, right down to upbringing and current path in life.  Which led me to step in, but that begins to digress from the main point... the stories were mirror.  However, this was a newer player than I was.

Do I think he took my story and used it?  Possibly.  Could I prove it?  Doubtful.  And quite possibly, he may have just taken the same idea from his own mind.  After all, I came up with it, what's to say someone else didn't have the same flair for dramatic storytelling rolled into a character that fits the background?  Now, it's a vast coincidence, especially since this person just happens to be a performer, and just happens to be at the same faire you perform at, and just happens to be in a position that no one would really question her at all (or even bat a lash at an accusation of impropriety)... but it is something to consider.
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Offline saphire_glade

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 05:21:56 PM »
It seems like it is going to end up working out. It appears that we both can use it and be safe, as she won't be working the fair I work at and I won't be working any of the fairs she works at.

Thanks all...
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Offline FiddleStix

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2009, 02:59:53 AM »
I was Also thinking about this subject. I have been attending faires for a while, and have been building my character over time. I just now Auditioned and Was hired for my local faire coming up in Feb.

I was hired as a Male Fae, and I have been trying to think of Something I could hand out. I Dont wanna Rip Twig off and hand out Gems, and I dont want Handing stuff out to be my Shtick, But Just for the sake of being nice, and brightening someones day, I DO wanna hand out something....

I want that Aspect of Twig, The Kindness, sense of Giving, to be included in my character, But I dont want to do the EXACT same thing she does.

My whole thing is Being Energetic On my Fiddle. Running around, Jumping, smiling, all while playing fast, complicated, high energy stuff.

Offline Margaret

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2009, 07:53:43 AM »


I want that Aspect of Twig, The Kindness, sense of Giving, to be included in my character, But I dont want to do the EXACT same thing she does.



Think of it this way:  Giving something to patrons is something almost every character at a faire does - from the Royalty who may give out small gold rings to the dirt farmer who may hand people muddy stones. 

It's not the giving that can't be duplicated, it is what is being given.

For example:  If Twig gives out small sticks with 2 bells tied to them, you giving out a small stick with one bell tied on it would be a bit sketchy.

However, if you give out something that uniquely reflects your character like a small musical note you have painted, then that will be just fine.
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Offline FiddleStix

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2009, 08:12:47 AM »
Yea..I understand what your getting at.

I dont wanna hand out Gem Stones, as I figured Its more Appropriate for Female Fae too do....

However, Hand Crafted Music notes would take some money and alot of time....The Gems she gives out are usually just Decorative Aquarium or Flower Vase Jumbo Gems. They are cheap, and they come in packs, But She makes them work very well..and they are pretty, Memorable, and unique to her. She gives them to people and Im sure the majority of them keep them.

I wanna make sure i give out something that people are not going to want to throw away once they go home, and can remember me by, and just add to the Memories people accumulate while at the faire, and keep after they have left.

I have heard stories of Little Kids Coming back each year to collect more and more Twig Stones....I wouldnt mind that kind of Popularity Locally :P....But who would? ^.^
« Last Edit: December 15, 2009, 08:13:17 AM by FiddleStix »

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2009, 09:12:10 AM »

I have heard stories of Little Kids Coming back each year to collect more and more Twig Stones....I wouldnt mind that kind of Popularity Locally :P....But who would? ^.^

We had a character at PaRF that would literally pick up a stone off the ground (in front of the patron) and say something along the lines of "You own a part of the shire now, congratulations!" and would repeat that over and over in front of the same people. He said people used to come back a year later still carrying that rock around with them. You don't necessarily need to buy or make or preplan anything. You could just pick up a twig or something and make that into a mini-bow for an invisible fiddle or whatever. Dont overthink it too much!

Offline GirlChris

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2009, 08:59:05 PM »
It's not the thing itself that makes it special. It's the character. The thing may very well be something that can easily be bought and just as easily lost, but the fact that it was given to you by Insert-Character-Name-Here is what gives it value.

Focus on the character and the bit where you give the thing- that's what will make it special.

Offline justsomeguytn

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2009, 08:38:52 AM »
It's not the thing itself that makes it special. It's the character. The thing may very well be something that can easily be bought and just as easily lost, but the fact that it was given to you by Insert-Character-Name-Here is what gives it value.

Focus on the character and the bit where you give the thing- that's what will make it special.

I agree.  When I was a kid I collected a bunch of those flat glass marbles from a nearby amusement park that had a blown glass shop.  This year cleaning some of my stuff out of my parent's house I found the glass in a jar.  I gave those to Twig this year at Carolina Ren Faire.  I figured she could give them to some kids and I wasn't going to get any use out of them.  However I've kept all the stones she's given me (four so far) in my curio cabinet.  In fact they're sitting right in front of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver.

Offline Carl Heinz

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2009, 11:33:03 AM »
Personally, I'd like to see more folks on mobility scooters rigged out like Lightning.  In fact I have cards that I'll give them if they ask that describes what we did.  The idea is to have a good time.  If you're doing street work, the micro-gigs accumulate and, as far as I'm concerned, folks can copy any of mine that they want.
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Offline saphire_glade

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2009, 06:43:39 PM »
See for me I can use almost anything to give away, it is my delivery that is completely unique to me *but is being copied*. Some things make more sense than others but for me it is how they get the object, not what it is in the end. I was once told by another fairy that kids should remember what you did, not just what you gave them. That is what I hope to be, a memorable faerie.

Of course I am normally too busy to even hand out things. But there are times when I have a kid that I give something to because they earned it and made my day. But it is really hard to find things to give away, cause those things that are small and cheap often either don't work well or someone else has gone there. Most of the time the kids leave with just soapy hands and either a) a huge smile or b) screaming for more *quite litterally*.
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Offline Carlthebarker

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2010, 11:49:42 AM »
Protect your self as best you can, but bottom line is people at faires- and I mean the producers too- are probably still going to steal your characters and ideas at some point if it's any good. I've seen the carolina festival blantently steal the Washer Well Wenches, songs, lines, and all. The producer has done that for years with acts.

Offline insidiousraven

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2010, 04:10:46 PM »
I've never seen Twig, but I remember at the KCRF around 1992 being given a colored glass stone and being told it was a dragon tear.  That was by far the highlight of my life for a while.  I think it was a noble dude or a knight who did it.

Offline FiddleStix

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2010, 07:03:16 PM »
I eventually found a website that sold little violin charms in bulk, that could be made into necklaces or bracelets. They were perfect, and pretty cheap to buy in large quantities. ^.^

One lady made my day by returning to faire and showing me that she had added a bunch of beads and gems to a chain and use the charm as the centerpiece of the necklace. Made me smile so bright! ^.^

Offline Fugli

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Re: Copyrighting your Character
« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2010, 10:14:18 AM »
I was trying to get it on the copyright registry but I don't know how to go about doing this. Has anyone ever copyrighted a street character and their bit successfully other than Twig that could give me advice?

http://www.copyright.gov

Create a website for your character, write a script of short story and publish it along with photographs of you as the character on it. Create some original artwork to go along with it, and copyright all that that. Dunno if it's really worth it though. You've read the commentary here.

Have you considered registering as a clown instead?
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