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--- On Mon, 9/21/09, Daniel Bowman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> From: Daniel Bowman <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Conlang copyright
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Monday, September 21, 2009, 11:24 PM
> As my previous post mentioned, I
> created a conlang for my friend for her
> novel last Friday. Originally, I was going to
> translate a few lines for her
> in Angosey, but I was afraid that, were she to publish her
> novel, the
> publisher would then own the rights to my language.
> Furthermore, if I
> wanted to publish a story of my own that included Angosey
> after she
> publishes hers, I might have legal action taken against
> me.
> 
> Is this a valid fear? Has anyone else encountered
> this sort of problem?
> 

Yes, this is a valid fear. Happens with software all the time.

Slap your copyright notice on the work you did:

    Copyright  2009 Your Name. All rights reserved.

Technically, you don't need a notice in the US, but it helps in situations like yours. Technically, you don't need the "All rights reserved," but again, you are giving notice to that future publisher you are own what's yours, not them. Technically, you don't need the word "copyright" but last time I checked some countries will not honor a copyright notice without it. (Maybe the publisher has an office in one of those said countries? Not that the word will stop anyone from copying anything, but at least they can't say you didn't claim ownership.)

For the work you allow her to use, give her a letter stating that you grant her permission to use the work in her novel, but that you still retain your rights to the work. You'll probably need to do something similar for the publisher, if/when the novel goes that far. (Don't forget the part about still retaining rights on every granting of permission, or it could be viewed as an assignment of rights.)

More info available at <http://www.copyright.gov>.

Finally, I am not a copyright lawyer, so use this advice at your own risk.

Good luck!

Lee