Creating Copyright of Quote

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Creating Copyright of Quote

Post by mostsuitable »

Hi there,
I'm wanting to create a t shirt using a complete quote from a somebody famous who as passed away.
Can I create a Copyright or Trademark if there isn't one already in existence?
I just want the Copyright or Trademark to cover the use of the wording on T Shirts and Sweatshirts to prevent other using my idea.
I would credit the person who said the quote on the shirts.
If this is possible, where do I go to register?
Thank you for any help you can provide on this.
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Post by CopyrightAid »

Copyright is the right of the creator of the work - it exists automatically in law from the point of creation.

Besides the potential issue that a quote may not be substantial and unique enough to qualify for protection, you cannot arbitrarily claim a right on someone else's work (it is their property, just like any other asset they own).

If copyright still exists in a work (i.e. the author died less than 70 years ago) then most likely the rights to his/her work will reside with whoever inherited the deceased's estate and it is them that you should seek permission from.

As far as claiming the copyright on the work. IF copyright still existed (see above) then the only way to do that would be to convince the current owner to give/sell the rights to you.

If copyright has already expired, then the work is said to be in the public domain: meaning that everyone is free to use it; you cannot resurrect copyright on a work that copyright has already expired on.

I cannot really help much on a trademark, but maybe Andy could shed more light on that. A trademark is intended to protect a companies brand identity (literally their trading mark) so whilst I cannot see how it could apply to multiple quotes, I suppose a single phrase used as your trading identity could be registered as a trademark.
You should however understand that while copyright is an automatic right (and subject to protection at a pretty much worldwide level under international conventions) - i.e. FREE (and we have already established you do not have a valid claim to copyright on the quotes), a trademark applies ONLY in the countries/regions where registered, each country's trademark office charges a fee to register and trademarks only cover you in the business sectors where it is registered; I have seen cases where exactly the same words have been registered trademarks of different companies in different sectors.
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