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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About Rich Stim

Attorney Richard Stim specializes in small business, copyright, patents, and trademark issues at Nolo. He practices law in San Francisco and has represented photographers, software developers, craftspeople, publishers, musicians and toy designers. He is the author of many books, including Music Law: How to Run Your Band’s Business; Patent, Copyright & Trademark: An Intellectual Property Desk Reference; and Profit From Your Idea. Stim regularly answers readers’ intellectual property questions at Dear Rich: Nolo’s Patent, Copyright & Trademark Blog. Rich is also an author on Intellectual Property Law Firms. Stim also produces audiobooks, such as Nolo’s Crash Course in Small Business Basics, and performs and records with two bands, MX-80 and angel corpus christi. You can also find Rich on Google Plus.

1 Comment

  1. Some Love for My Top PyraPosts - Peri Pakroo on December 10, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    […] part because we’ll be featuring more excellent info from Rich. I’ll include this piece, Can Artist Copyright Art and Text Together? as an excuse to include the Valentine’s Day image—but really, do yourself a favor and check […]

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