The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #132837 Message #3007979
Posted By: Genie
15-Oct-10 - 04:09 PM
Thread Name: protecting your use of a pen name
Subject: RE: protecting your use of a pen name
Here's the last post from that thread (before the SPAMbots took over). It's about my main concerns re protecting one's right to use a chosen nom de plume or stage name.
BTW, here's what the US Copyright Office currently says about registering copyrights under pseudonyms:
An author of a copyrighted work can use a pseudonym or pen name. A work is pseudonymous if the author is identified on copies or phonorecords of the work by a fictitious name. Nick names and other diminutive forms of legal names are not considered fictitious. Like other names, pseudonyms are not protected by copyright.
If you write under a pseudonym but want to be identified by your legal name in the Copyright Office's records, give your legal name and your pseudonym on your application for copyright registration. Check "pseudonymous" on the application if the author is identified on copies of the work only under a fictitious name and if the work is not made for hire. Give the pseudonym where indicated.
If you write under a pseudonym and do not want to have your identity revealed in the Copyright Office's records, give your pseudonym and identify it as such on your application.
You can leave blank the space for the name of the author. If an author's name is given, it will become part of the Office's online public records, which are accessible by Internet. The information cannot later be removed from the public records. You must identify your citizenship or domicile.
In no case should you omit the name of the copyright claimant. You can use a pseudonym for the claimant name. But be aware that if a copyright is held under a fictitious name, business dealings involving the copyrighted property may raise questions about its ownership. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this matter.
Works distributed under a pseudonym enjoy a term of copyright protection that is the earlier of 95 years from publication of the work or 120 years from its creation. However, if the author's identity is revealed in the registration records of the Copyright Office, including in any other registrations made before that term has expired, the term then becomes the author's life plus 70 years.
Sincerely yours, Register of Copyrights]]
So you can't protect your nom de plume or your stage name via the US Copyright office, but you can register your works under the pseudonym in such a way that people will not know the real identity of, say, the "Mousethief" or "Crane Driver" who wrote the song unless they bother to look it up via the Copyright office. Lots of performers use stage names which anyone could, but most don't, bother to trace to their real names.
In my case, certain of my songs were actually conceived by my imaginary playmate and sometime muse, whose name I want registered as their author. I have no desire to prevent people from knowing that she is my own imaginary playmate (i.e., to trace the song back to me), but I do separate her songs (which are either satire, country, bawdy, or just plain silly) from "mine" (which include very serious and sometimes spiritual lyrics).
My concern with the "protection" of that alter-ego name is not copyright protection. It's a two- or three-fold concern about being prevented from using the name myself if someone else should "claim" that name via Trademark, via domain name ownership, or via something like SAG or AFTRA.
I guess you can apply for such Trademark protection or, if you're a member of a recording artists' union, you can register the name, but I think that's pretty expensive and may not even be an avenue open to most of us peons.
Anyone have any insights or expertise about this?