Protecting your characters


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How is a fictional character protected by law?

When Michael Johnston published Brideshead Regained, James Gill, who represents the Evelyn Waugh estate, said ‘You cannot just wander into someone else’s property and take their characters.’ Surprisingly, however, you often can. Characters are not protected under English law; copyright protects the words and form in which ideas are expressed, not the ideas or characters

Parody

The law changed in 2014. Even if there is copyright use, the law says that “fair dealing with a work for the purposes of caricature, parody, or pastiche does not infringe copyright”. Unfortunately parody, pastiche and caricature are not fully defined, and fair dealing has no statutory definition, being a matter of fact, degree, and impression

Copyright & trademarks

Copyright lasts for the author’s life plus 70 years, but you have to work out who is the author of the work. Of course, the author may be the writer. The author might also be the illustrator, and the author may be both. Copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years so

How to trademark and protect your work (28:16)

First, make sure your idea is properly documented. You do not have any copyright until it is recorded in permanent form. Trademarks are expensive and the process is slow, so registering a name and illustrations may not be worthwhile until you are sure the design is going to be a hit. If you show the

CASE STUDY: We Go to the Gallery (23:06)

When Michael Johnston published Brideshead Regained, James Gill, who represents the Evelyn Waugh estate, said ‘You cannot just wander into someone else’s property and take their characters.’ Surprisingly, however, you often can. Characters are not protected under English law; copyright protects the words and form in which ideas are expressed, not the ideas or characters

Moral rights (24:04)

When Michael Johnston published Brideshead Regained, James Gill, who represents the Evelyn Waugh estate, said ‘You cannot just wander into someone else’s property and take their characters.’ Surprisingly, however, you often can. Characters are not protected under English law; copyright protects the words and form in which ideas are expressed, not the ideas or characters

Using real people (34:15)

When Michael Johnston published Brideshead Regained, James Gill, who represents the Evelyn Waugh estate, said ‘You cannot just wander into someone else’s property and take their characters.’ Surprisingly, however, you often can. Characters are not protected under English law; copyright protects the words and form in which ideas are expressed, not the ideas or characters

Diaries and memoirs (41:28)

When Michael Johnston published Brideshead Regained, James Gill, who represents the Evelyn Waugh estate, said ‘You cannot just wander into someone else’s property and take their characters.’ Surprisingly, however, you often can. Characters are not protected under English law; copyright protects the words and form in which ideas are expressed, not the ideas or characters

Defamation (53:38)

When Michael Johnston published Brideshead Regained, James Gill, who represents the Evelyn Waugh estate, said ‘You cannot just wander into someone else’s property and take their characters.’ Surprisingly, however, you often can. Characters are not protected under English law; copyright protects the words and form in which ideas are expressed, not the ideas or characters