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Can I copyright a tutorial

 
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jayjay
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:48 am    Post subject: Can I copyright a tutorial Reply with quote

Hi,

I was wondering if it is possible to copyright a written how to tutorial in programs like adobe photoshop. Eg how to produce a particular effect.

eg:
w w w(dot)thedesignworld(dot)com/photoshop-tutorials/filter-effects/splashing-lava/

Also I was wondering what would happen if someone copied my tutorial and registered it before I did?

If it is possible to copyright a written tutorial, is there anything stopping anyone from creating the same tutorial but using slightly different settings but producing a similar effect and copyrighting that?

Lastly if someone copies my written tutorial and puts in a video format is that violating my copyright?



Thanks in advance

Jayson
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CopyrightAid
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi jayjay and welcome to the forum.

Yes, copyright will protect the tutorial, but you should be clear exactly what is covered:

Copyright will apply to the actual written document (the tutorial) that you create. So anyone copying the tutorial will be infringing your copyright and that is something you could take action against. You should be clear that it is NOT the process/method that is protected, but the actual content of your tutorial - your tutorial would be classified as a literary work. Clearly the more detailed your tutorial is, the easier it is to prove than an infringement has occurred, (rather than coincidence).

Quote:
I was wondering what would happen if someone copied my tutorial and registered it before I did?

Registration means slightly different things depending on whether you are a US citizen or not, but the main purpose is to place on record a verifiable copy of your work as it exists at that point in case it is needed as evidence to prove your claim.
Someone that is not the copyright owner (i.e. someone who copies your work) is NOT eligible to register - it would be a fraudulent act, and certainly in breach of the registration rules. I cannot think of a case when this has happened, but I would imagine that unless you have really solid proof that pre-dates their registration I think it could be very difficult and expensive to prove your claim if the other party maintains that the work is theirs.

If you are serious about protecting the tutorial (i.e. if you feel it has the potential to make you money), then it is probably a good idea to register. You may want to see our registration advice page.

Quote:
is there anything stopping anyone from creating the same tutorial but using slightly different settings but producing a similar effect and copyrighting that?

Yes. This would be an adaptation of your work and therefore an infringement of copyright, and you would have every right to take action. To realistically be able to win a legal case you should demonstrate that they have directly copied from or adapted your work, and this is not just a passing coincidental similarity.

On your last point... Video format.
Yes, that would be a violation of copyright - Under law, copyright will exist regardless of format, so as long as you can prove the video is copying your work an infringement has occurred.
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jayjay
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:02 pm    Post subject: Wow thats great advice Reply with quote

Thank you so much for the valuable advice.

Do you think the software makers "Adobe" might have some sort of a clause preventing copy writing tutorials produced in their software?

I'll start reading through the softwares terms and conditions just in case.
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jayjay
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:35 pm    Post subject: copyright process / method ? Reply with quote

Quote:
You should be clear that it is NOT the process/method that is protected, but the actual content of your tutorial - your tutorial would be classified as a literary work.


So if someone claims to have a similar process or method that produced the same result but claim to have not learned it from my tutorial, is that just regarded as a co-incidence?

Also does this mean I cannot copyright the process / method?
But only the content of the tutorial itself?

If this is the case does that mean that other people could make their own tutorials using the same process / method but the tutorial itself has unique pictures and text and not infringe copyright?

And If my tutorial is already published on my website and someone copies it but I have not officially registered it in the UK or US and only put the C copyright symbol are they infringing copyright?
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CopyrightAid
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jayjay
Wow, what a lot of questions...
Let's deal with these point in turn:
Quote:
Do you think the software makers "Adobe" might have some sort of a clause preventing copy writing tutorials produced in their software?

No. The software is a tool used to do the job. What you produce with it is yours.
Adobe own their software, not what you use it to produce - just like a sewing machine manufacturer would not own the skirt you made with it.

Quote:
So if someone claims to have a similar process or method that produced the same result but claim to have not learned it from my tutorial, is that just regarded as a co-incidence?

Unless you can demonstrate that they copied you, yes.
There are many ways to bake a cake....

Quote:
Also does this mean I cannot copyright the process / method?
But only the content of the tutorial itself?

Correct. Copyright applies to the 'recorded work' - in this case the tutorial. If I write a tutorial that achieves a similar objective, and do so without copying from you, I am the copyright owner of my tutorial just as you are the copyright owner of yours.

Quote:
If this is the case does that mean that other people could make their own tutorials using the same process / method but the tutorial itself has unique pictures and text and not infringe copyright?

As long as they did not directly copy or adapt your tutorial, yes.

Quote:
And If my tutorial is already published on my website and someone copies it but I have not officially registered it in the UK or US and only put the C copyright symbol are they infringing copyright?

Yes. Copyright exists from the point of creation, so what you describe IS a copyright infringement and you can take action.

The problem comes when the other person says that they wrote it first, and the main reason for registering is to ensure that you have proper evidence in case of this happening.

Additionally, if you are a US citizen you would need to register with the US Copyright Office before you can file suit in a US court. You do not need to do this if you are not a US citizen (you can still file suit without it).
-----
From your questions, you sound a little unclear on how copyright works.
May I suggest that you take a look at the UKCS copyright law fact sheet - I find this is a good 'starting point'. Although based on UK law, the principles are the same worldwide. The same site also provides a registration service if you need it.
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