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Dear Rich: Can Artist Copyright Art and Text Together?

From Dear Rich: Nolo’s Intellectual Property Blog



Dear Rich: I’ve designed a greeting card line which includes illustrations as well as illustrated/hand lettered text. Illustrated/hand lettered text will also appear on the card’s interior. I will soon be submitting my scanned art as a collection to the copyright office. Can this illustrated text be copyrighted with my main artwork? Would it be a problem because, even though they are illustrated words and phrases, they are still words and phrases? Thank you for helping clarify this gray area of copyright protection.

Yes, you can copyright a combination of images and text, even if the text by itself is not copyrightable. Even a phrase as unprotectible as “Remember Me,” can be registered in connection with an image. The artist cannot stop others from using the phrase by itself, but the artist can stop others from using the same combination of imagery and text.


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