Unreal UE4 - What´s the best and less expensive way to copyright characters and games?

Hi, I live outside the USA, and i have some idea of how to copyright things, but since i´m still making my first game with Unreal, to sell it at Steam, and i want to think it will be a succes LOL… i wonder if there is suggestions about how to copyright a game, i wonder if you guys have links that you can share with information, process, best prices, i belive even do im not from USA i still can register characters and games there but what happens to the rest of the world, copyright in the USA Will replicate to wich countires? wich steps have worked for you in the past, how long this process takes, how long games and characters are protected, do you copyright each character, group, or the entire game at once and how you prepear the specimen(docs), samples, images (specially since a game its different from a rendered image), do you have to render scenes from the game?

I have read that today you can actually publish any content without first having to Copyright, the first to publish content remains the rights; even the symbols of copyright might not be required anymore, but how safe is that, and how long it protects you? I belive sharing steps and opinions will help a lot of users, beginers and maybe even more advanced developers in our journeys,

Please share, thanks

You don’t have to do anything to get copyright, you might be thinking of trademark.

Could you explain a bit more? but, thanks

This is a subject matter that I also have an interest in.

once you publish something, you automatically own the copyright.

A Trademark is a “brand”. It needs to be registered (and afaik costs). An example would be Coca Cola. You are not allowed to use the Coca Cola Font or the Name Coca Cola without permission.

“Copyright exists from the moment the work is created”

“A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs”

Trademarks are where first use and dates matters. That can’t really apply to copyright, which applies to an original creation like music, a 3d model, a texture, or a game.
You don’t have to register a copyright until there’s a dispute. Although registering a trademark for a game’s name and a company name isn’t a bad idea.

You own the copyrights as long as you live. Nobody will be allowed to copy your characters and profit from them. And as said, you dont need to do a thing.
If someone actually steals your character and tries to make profit from it, well, it will be in your hands how you will take action.
But in general dont worry about the copyrights (as long as you are not taking anyone elses copyrighted work, that is). Just get the game done and dont worry about -anything- else.

Well that’s good to know, it’s nice to know that I don’t worry about that kind of legal mumbo-jumbo when I have better things to focus on.

But, i preffer using a real game example, as you said, a trademark Will be Coca Cola… but this example i think wont help, since they dont do games, neither create any characters.

lets use The Simpsons (videogames, tv show, products, movies), are they a trademark or copyright? what happens if i created Bart Simpson (so i own it), and i make a game called “Bart Simpson Adventures”…. Then…. “The simpsons” its a Brand that has to be trademarked, even if i own Bart Simpson Copyright because i published him first?

Well… Fox has copyrighted each and every single thing they have done with “The Simpsons”, each episode its fully copyrighted, each game its copyrighted, each character individually its copyrighted, even if they make toys or Tshirts, they send an specimen (image of the Tshirt with logo in black and white) and they copyright it in the USA, since the drawing style of the Simpsons has changed…. each new design its copyrighted too and they do it every time, copyright gov files have like 2000 tabs of Simpsons copyrighted ítems, that´s maybe 100,000 things the have registered since the 90´s… Why they need to do this? copyright each episode or thing they do?.. if as you said, things become a copyright at the moment you publish them?

Second example: Legend of Zelda, what happens if i created this concept or “Brand”, should i trademark “Legend of Zelda” as a Brand, even if i own the character “link” and the name “Legend of Zelda” because i published first right? what happens if i make a game… and i dont copyright or trademark anything and next year Steven Spielberg makes a movie based in my entire game concept… and guess what… he did copyrighted it? may i sue him becuase i published my game 1 year before in Steam?

Its kind of confusing… why are we so safe by just publishing our content fist? thats why i wanted to find out a bit more, and i belive this subject its super important, specially when you are not from the USA. BTW: Sorry my english

I just wish to know in your experience guys, what have you done to protect your work in the past, prices, steps, websites with information, best practices.

First off, what is your main concern? That people are going to rip your game and sell it as their own? Copy your ideas?

If your game sells so well that you actually need to concern yourself about trademarking and protecting it and can find comparisons to The Simpsons, Steven Spielberg and Zelda, it has sold well enough for you to hire a lawyer to do these for you. Until then just focus on the game itself; releasing the product is super important, not worrying about things that might have happen in extremely lucky case. If someone likes your character so much that he uses it for his own work, you should take that as free advertisement and be happy about it tbh.

Copyrights free and automatic, In the Uk trademarks are not expensive, although remember software’s generally pretty hard to patent (if what you mean) and patenting costs with a solicitor are around 5k plus.

If you’ve got a game, lets say a game that can spot visual problems that uses “bob the dog” as a character, someone can pretty easily copy your game and just use different characters/visual assets and there’d be very little you can do about it.

I’ve been told about sending finished software algorithms to yourself in the post and not opening unless it goes to court as proof of you having an idea prior to someone else but just how practical or effective this is in real life, I dunno?!

To make it worse if you have to challenge someone on the basis of infringing your patent/IP/Copyright you’d have to take them to court and it can get seriously expensive.

“Manatee” i dont think its right for some one else to copy your creations, and see it as free promo or advertisement… i think that mindset its wrong, some people may even ask you to allow them per free to do this as free promo, if you say yes, the might use it to make a lot of money behind your back… BTW… a 23 year old created a website to share old videos, one of those was “the simpsons episodes”… he wasn´t selling them, but Fox sued him for 10 million dollars and won, yeah they love free publicity.

I guess the idea of publish games and depending on how they sell, register them its Ok, but still risky.

AFAIK copyright is automatic and applies only to the actual piece of work (a music, book, film, game, software, etc) so that only the author is permitted to make copies of the work or give others the authorization to do so. Product and company names and logos on the other hand need to be trademarked and that does costs money. So an episode of The Simpsons is protected by copyright while the brand “The Simpsons” is protected by trademark. Characters can be more complicated and can involve both copyrights and trademarks.

Anway, it’s best to talk to an actual lawyer about this.

Check this out

Of intrest

If you seriously consider your product to be the same level of potential as The Simpsons,you should definitely hire a lawyer from the start. For a normal indie developer who doesnt have much of hopes of creating a multi-billion dollar networth brand, the fair use of using your characters for fanart etc is just a positive form of user advertisement really.

But really, dont worry about something thats not an issue yet. If your product really hits that big, you have the funds to hire the lawyers to do the work for you. Until then, just focus on the game.