Copylefting Characters

So there is an idea that I have ben throwing around in my head for a while, which is licensing my character under copyleft. For those who aren’t aware of copyleft, it is a licensing system that allows people to copy and make changes to something, but does not allow them to copyright it. It’s usually done for free, open source software, but it has other uses, and the idea that I have in mind is to tackle the following problems:

  • Post of commissioned works without credit
  • Character theft
  • Impersonation
  • Maintaning reasonable distribution rights

It’s a pain in the ass to track down usages of my character, and even more annoying if they aren’t interested in cooperating. Impersonators are particularly bad, and even someone who claimed they weren’t trying to impersonate me signed up for a discord and twitter account in my name.

I have the power to grant the right to use the likeness of my character, but there is never anyone that bothers to ask, and it’s gotten pretty bad. Even if I grant a clause for people to use my character with credit, it’s ambiguous as to whether the need for credit works when people use my character from someone that is already using it. I originally thought about making my character public domain if I was to die, but the problem occurs with that people can then make derivatives and start licensing them for their own needs, and it doesn’t encourage freedom.

That is where a copyleft license comes in.

A good copyleft license will allow for other people to use my character under the agreement that they copy the license that the character uses. The license prohibits relicensing and requires the license to be posted, which has the credit in place. It deters the need to steal without credit in the hopes that people will not figure out and message me about my character being stolen, and brings the credit attention back to me, it’s a win-win situation.

It will also assist with avoiding the ambiguity on distribution of my character, it requires a source and the notice to be placed with the image.

There is a theoretical problem with trolls and such being able to edit images without explicit permission, but the license would be only for my character, not the artwork. The artwork would be licensed under the terms of the artist, who retains copyright and may exercise their rights over it however they wish. Other characters in the image would also not be licensed under the copyleft license, and thus they also have rights over the image. A troll would have to actually draw a new artpiece to mock my character, but that seems far fetched.

There is a degree of issue with regards to fetish uses, I’m not exactly keen on someone putting my character in a diaper and drawing scat porn, so the license likely would have to cover that, although I’m not sure how it would be accomplished. It could be accomplished by allowing new works to be rated PG, but no further to prevent such things, but it is quite restrictive. I’ll have to think on it.

It could be considered the opposite of a crazy restrictive license.


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