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Read our review and discuss with fans the highly anticipated
Sesame Street "50 Years and Counting" DVD set from Shout Factory featuring over five hours of beloved moments.
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Music is Everywhere
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You cannot trademark a puppet design, they fall under copyright laws. As soon as you create a work it's protected for the rest of your life +50 (or is it 75 now?) years. There is a formal copyright process you can go through in the U.S. - I think Scary Larry and a few others here have gone through it.
I'm not a lawyer, but in my humble opinion, unless you are big company and pursuing a major project in the six - seven figure range it's not necessary because 1) it's expensive and 2) even if you are registered if someone rips you off you have to have extremely deep pockets to go after them.
It costs about $20. So, for $20 you have the peace of mind to know that you could back your position up in court if you had to. The way that copyrighting fir us little guys works is that should someone rip off your designs, you'd have to prove that they had access to your work to copy and that you had the idea first.
If you're posting your work online, then that makes your work available to someone else. So how do you prove that you created it first?
If you have a registration on file with the copyright office, that's a pretty good start.
Is it just $20 in the US? I understood it was more, something like $100 - $150.
It's not a bad idea to file a copyright of course, but there are lots of ways to prove what you created and when. I think one of the advantages of copyright in the U.S. is that a registered copyright allows you to sue for damages instead of just to seek an injunction to stop infringement.
But people who are building their first puppets shouldn't get too caught up in copyright legalities. I know of people who have spent six months doing detailed drawings, sending them out to the copyright office, speaking with lawyers, etc. but they never actually got around to building a puppet. For those I say just keep all your notes/photos/patterns/etc. and focus on doing good work.
Copyrights went up to $40, I thought. I copyrighted Muley as a cartoon, puppet, and costume, including all his co-horts in hilarity. Trademarks range in prices, actually, from $100 to way-high.
When you create something, you are the author and hold the automatic copyright; but, by filing with the Library of Congress you have legal ownership that can't be argued or denied should legal recourse arise. I created Muley and friends as cartoons in 1980 when I was 7 years old, one of my comic strips were stolen for an advertisement when I was 9, but I never got copyrighted until 1988.
Don't rush into it, just keep photos and all that in case you need it. When you get finalized--closer to your product--then start worrying about copyright.