Copyright Confusion: Trademark Edition!

(To ensure there’s no confusion here: I am not a lawyer, I am a writer who has an interest in this subject because I would like to not be sued or ripped off. Noble motivations, I assure you.)

Copyright, it’s a funny thing. Most people have a basic understanding of it, but that understanding tends to be fairly black and white. Some people assume that it should be mostly common sense, but that’s not always true. Things that everyone tends to “know” about the system are usually pretty subjective and can be swayed by a good legal team. And other things that people “know” may be flat out wrong in some cases.

When I wrote the post that eventually got this discussion rolling, one of those things people “knew” is that a copyright holder is obligated to sue to defend their copyright. This is an opinion that a lot of people had based on a misunderstanding and outdated information. Once upon a time, it would have been totally true (and still is in some circumstances and locales). But one of the few things about modern US copyright law that I really like is that we currently don’t require a copyright holder to do anything to maintain their copyright. You can register, but that registration is mostly meant for your future legal cases if you want to draw damages. The minute you publish original content in the US, you own it, no questions asked. A failure to register doesn’t lose you the copyright, it just makes your lawsuits a little trickier.

Instead, lawsuits are generally used to either stop an action, punish a violation, or to ensure that the right people are being paid for a work. These are entirely voluntary. That’s not to say that filing the lawsuit makes you a dick, not at all, you should have the right to defend your work. Rather, when someone says that the lawsuit was an obligation, they’re working under a false assumption. Corporations aren’t “obligated” to protect their copyright from fear of losing it since it’s nearly impossible to lose a copyright. Their lawsuits on copyright are entirely about ensuring that no one else profits from their work or prevents them from profiting on it themselves.

On the other hand, trademark law tends to be… Continue reading Copyright Confusion: Trademark Edition!

Alterpedia Historia – Revolutions

(I hate that I have to say this, but this is a fictional account of the history of a fictional world. I do not believe these things, nor should you, as I am making them up. If I receive any comments that I did not do my research into these events, you will be mocked.)

In the Agent of Argyre series of books, there is an organization called the Alter Control Task Force. Though ostensibly an organization for policing activities of the Alter race, an attempt to prevent an eventual race war, they are actually representatives of a city-state on the ocean: The Republic of Argyre.

The Republic of Argyre, an artificial island anchored to an oceanic ridge in the pacific, is a city-state established by Alters for the sake of harboring their kind and establishing a relationship with the mainstream human population. Despite being an artificial island and attached to no primary landmass, the city’s structure is capable of potentially supporting all 12 to 15 million active Alters on the planet.

How did a race of people who’ve lived in hiding for centuries manage to construct such a city? Why would they build their city in the middle of the ocean? Where did they get the resources for such a task? In the Alterpedia Historia, we will answer these questions and discover the history of the Alters. Today we address…

Continue reading Alterpedia Historia – Revolutions

Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Despite their differences, every creative field has similar challenges. You have to have a vision to make it work, and often that vision has to be something really important to you. If you lack the sufficient will and determination, you’ll generally not get very far in whatever you’re trying to create. Whether it be a painting, composition, or a novel – you have to go in being a little bit single-minded. Distractions are easy, after all, and there may be people who want you to do something else entirely. There may even be parts of yourself, or outside voices, which tell you that you’re not good enough. As a result, finishing requires being able to tune all of that out and push forward despite almost everything.

This, despite how neurotic creative types may be, actually requires a great deal of pride, even ego. It’s not something we have all the time, but when it comes to our personal work we can be incredibly stubborn. In fact, quite a few of us have to train a sense of self-righteousness. It often becomes something of a monster – an inner asshole. We hone a bit of our personal ego and our passion for the project to craft this alter-ego which shuts out certain opinions and doesn’t care what others think.

Everyone actually has a version of this inner asshole, just expressed in different ways and to different degrees. We don’t like this side, but it still exists – giving us the ability to be egotistical enough to not be swayed from our goals.  The stronger it is, the easier time we have doing things that would otherwise scare us. Some would say that requires some sort of an emotional callous, but callouses are numb and this other facet of our personality is still pretty damn passionate. The greats are generally people who can turn this on and off at will, able to achieve a degree of tunnel vision when necessary but then shut it off when it’s no longer helpful. They keep this personality in check for as long as possible, unleashing it only when needed.


Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword. A lot of you already know how hard it can be to take criticism well, but there are other times in the middle of the project that we often overlook. For every determined artist there’s a moment where they’ll find their project in a place other than where they intended it to be. Maybe you’ve gotten half way through the painting and realized that it isn’t matching the image in your head. Maybe the natural flow of events in your story has come to a different place. Maybe the thing you were so attached to turns out to not work very well at all. At this point, those people who once had so much determination are now facing a brand new kind of problem.

You have to defeat the monster you created… Continue reading Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Each Day A New Step

Every day someone has to get up and push themselves to get to work. Some days, that’s a little harder than others. And, I’m willing to venture a guess quite a few people aren’t feeling too great right now. I can understand why those people are a little stressed out. The environment is in shambles, it feels like a lot of progress we’ve made has been backsliding,  and the economy tends to be unkind to people in the wrong tax brackets. These are all struggles we share, and everyone has others struggles almost entirely unique to them. If we’re lucky, some of those struggles get easier over time. If we’re unlucky, a few new ones will come along to make the next day harder than the last. But if we’re really unlucky, something goes off the deep end and we find ourselves appointing a crazy hair madman as our leader.


Understandably, some people have a hard time getting up after that. There’s plenty of time to try to figure out what caused it, or what it means, and we’ve got some time to figure out how this is all going to play out. But for today, we have to remember that each new day is another day we have to make count. Even if you’re driving through wastelands, running for your life, you still have to get up in the morning and make your way forward. After all, the alternative is to give up and giving up opens up a fresh new form of hell.


So, if you’re still alive when the world’s gone mad, you have to find a way to live in it… Continue reading Each Day A New Step

A Strong Hook

The first sentence of your story can be the most important you ever write. It may not be the most profound, the most interesting, or the most eloquent – but that really doesn’t matter. It starts the first paragraph, which starts the first page of the first chapter. It’s the first of a series of barriers you have to cross to truly draw someone in. Though rarely enough to chase someone away, it starts something that will carry you through to the end.

And you probably just winged it.

The reason these things are so important is that it does more than simply start off your story. I’ve already talked about beginnings being a pain in the ass, but the earlier in the story you are, the less there is of the story to give context and substance. As such, that first sentence, the first paragraph, and the first page are essentially you pitching the rest of the story to the reader. Even in visual formats like comics and films, the first shots are going to tell the viewer whether they want to even sit through any of it. And that means, despite the fact it’s generally one of the hardest sections to write for some people, it’s also one of the few sections that matters on its own.

No pressure, right? Continue reading A Strong Hook