Copyrighting Your Works

I’m hoping to put things in the public domain, and I’m also hoping to sell a model or a texture or an animation or two or maybe a program or something down the road some day. Like, even though I have the 3D art ability of a stunned chicken at the moment, I make really nice business cards and calendars and web pages and such and although one probably can’t make a significant amount of money at putting stuff like that on stock sites or whatever, it’d nice to be noticed with a buck here and there.

So I’m not looking to quit my day job or anything, but I set out this morning to learn more about copyrighting stuff because as artists and designers and coders, at least in the US, that sort of thing can play a sizeable role in our lives.

Mostly, I’m giving myself “grounds for study”. I’m not just accountable to myself, I’m accountable to someone, even if that person is someone that I’ll never meet who paid seventy-five cents for 20 hours of my work. It gives me a deadline, and a reason to work and be better that doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not I “feel like creating something” that week.

Starting with no information this morning, I stumbled upon Creative Commons legal documents. They’re all over the place. Big since the early 2000s. There are six types of CC documents:


BY means the user has to mention the person who originally made what you’re using in a meaningful way. Web link, print, maybe some other name-drop.

SA means Share Alike. Your work, based on the other person’s work, needs to have the SAME CC license as the original work.

NC means Non Commercial. People have spent years in court fighting over the exact definition of this, but the broad strokes of it are pretty self-explanatory.

ND means you’re being a hard-ass about your work. No Derivatives. If someone uses your stuff, they can’t make anything new from it in any way, shape, or form.

  • Fun tip from josephhansen on Blender Artists (dot) org - Put your CC License info and your name in your files’ metadata. Bad actors don’t always look there for stuff.

I’m fairly certain that Creative Commons does not works effectively without getting Big Brother involved. If you’re in the US, that’s the gub’mint office called the Electronic Copyright Office (ECO). What you probably want to do there is log into the ECO web site, fill out some basic stuff about what you’re publishing, and pay your money. Copyrighting a thing or a group of things (up to ten) isn’t financially pain-free, but I hear it’s not bad at around 35 dollars. They really have to be the same type of things though - like ten models or seven logos or three books. If you’re a music composer or a photographer, I think you get a better deal. There was a number of around 750 thrown around - meaning I think you can copyright 750 photos for 35 bucks.

Finally, you upload your files to the US ECO and get your receipt. I’m guessing that whoever the ECO is paying $40 an hour and four weeks of vacation a year to has no concept under god of what a .blend file so your uploads will probably be a PDF with a bunch of front, side, back renders of your things. The waiting seems like it sucks - an average of four months. Bring your Ramen noodles if you don’t have other sources of income.

Of course, bad actors don’t care about your copyright and if it’s nothing major, you’re probably not going to court about anything anyway because lawyers aren’t going to bat for you for free, but at least you’ve now heard of the lawful-good path through the game.

Then, in the lingo of the Underpants Gnomes, profit? In my case not much, but maybe you’ll all do better. Be safe out there. :slight_smile:

My chain of thought -

  • Fun tip number two: The Creative Commons license “CC0” (see-see-zero) is what you want if you just want to throw your stuff around and you want to forget all about rights. It’s just about what we used to call “public domain”. Anyone can do whatever with it and they don’t have to think of you fondly or legally at all. If you’re image-searching on Google for something, and don’t laugh at me because we’ve ALL done it, make sure to include CC0 in your search-box if you’re going to use anything. Word to the wise man or woman.

Thanks Mark! This is awesome :slight_smile: copyrighting your work is something that is important but most people don’t get to it because it seems overwhelming and they don’t know where to start. Hopefully this helps a bit! :smiley: