Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and what we lay out here doesn't constitute legal advice. We will try to explain these concepts to the best of our knowledge, but it is on you to be informed and make a decision about how to use the information presented here. If you have any questions regarding your rights, please ask your lawyer or agent.
Copyright and your work
In most countries, especially in Europe and the US, the moment you create something you own the copyright to that creation. Owning the copyright means that you have the rights to decide how your work will be distributed and used, although there are limitations to your rights such as fair use.
Speaking plainly, this means that anyone who wants to do anything with your work will require your explicit permission to use it. For example, if a filmmaker wants to adapt your work to a short film, she will need to get in touch with you and get your approval before she can start working on the film. It is also possible to buy and sell rights to certain material, which is common practice in publishing, film and TV.
Unless you have an agent, or someone hired to manage your copyrighted material, the burden of managing these rights falls on you, as the creator. You are the one in charge of deciding what can and cannot be done with your work, and also of taking legal action when required.
Your copyright and Plotist
On our terms and conditions (section 10) we make it clear that we claim no ownership of any content you create on our platform. Anything you create on Plotist will be yours unless you make it explicitly clear that it is not.
The only rights we ask of you when you sign up are the rights to handle your content in any way needed (which includes storing, transporting and presenting) in order to provide you the service you signed up for. If your content is set to public, we also require the rights to promote your content on our site or any other media we use to reach out to our users.
As a consequence of this, we are not responsible for the content you create on the platform. We will not manage your rights in any way or get involved in any legal dispute beyond providing any information available as required by a court of law.
In other words, using Plotist doesn't change anything about your copyright, other than granting us permission to do our job. You are still in charge of deciding who can use it or distribute it, and under which conditions.
A few years back, when the Internet started to become commonplace and new distribution channels for creative work appeared, a group of lawyers, activists and artists got together to find a better way of managing their copyright in the digital age. Among all of their contributions to the creative industries, Creative Commons (CC) stands out as a legal solution to handling copyright in digital distribution channels.
CC doesn't take away your copyright. When you license your content under CC, you still own the copyright of that work, but you make it clear to others what they can and cannot do with your work. Instead of "all rights reserved," you offer "some rights reserved."
The basic right you offer your audience is the right to distribute your work as long as they credit you in a way that you approve. This right to distribute is not unlimited, and you can still control whether others can use it for commercial purposes or whether they can create variations of your work.
With CC you remove the burden of having to approve certain uses of your work, leaving you more time to handle the negotiations for the rights that really matter to you. For example, if you license your work using CC with a non-commercial clause, anyone who wants to make money out of your work will still have to contact you, but you would be allowing a fan of your work to write some fanfiction.
An important thing to know about CC is that it is irrevocable, meaning that once you license your work under CC, you cannot take it back. You can change your license at any time, including going back to full copyright, and from that moment on your work will be licensed under those new terms, but anyone who received your work with the previous license will still have the rights you granted originally.
Of course, you can create your own licenses for your work, explaining everything that your audience can and cannot do with it, but CC has already been translated to the legal code of more than a hundred countries, is constantly reviewed, and provides a sensible foundation for working in the digital age.
Using the license picker
Plotist offers a license picker, where you can choose how your copyright or CC license will be shown to your audience. By using the license picker, you are just selecting the license that you already own and we are, in no way, licensing your work. You are still responsible for managing your copyright or CC license, including any license change or any update to your legal terms, as well as informing others of any change.
We will only show the copyright or CC license information you want us to show, and we will not verify that such rights are actually yours.
Here are some resources you can use if you want to learn more about CC and copyright:
'Wanna work together?' - Video explaining Copyright and CC
Free MIT Course on Copyright Law (Licensed under CC)
US Government's FAQ about copyright:
UK Government's FAQ about copyright:
The EU copyright legislation:
Lawrence Lessig on Copyright and CC
Free Culture - Book by Lawrence Lessig