Fallon, NV asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Nevada

Q: If I publish a story to a magazine, do they just have rights to the story, or are any concepts or characters theirs too?

Say I publish a story to an anthology work like the magazine Asimov's, and it takes place in a fictional world populated by a cast of specific characters. Does this submission give them rights to the specific story or work only, or does it also give them rights to the characters that appear in the story and the world itself, preventing me from submitting another story in that world, with those characters, to another magazine?

1 Lawyer Answer
Glenn B. Manishin
Glenn B. Manishin
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Warrenton, VA

A: Copyright applies to the "work" -- the story -- not ideas. Characters can be protected by trademarks, like Mickey Mouse. Unless you give away your rights to the characters, the magazine cannot use them without your permission in another story or any publication simply as a result of owning the copyright in your story.

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