Friday, June 03, 2005

More silly copyright stuff

Someone said this . . .(paraphrase)

We were talking about copyright and she said, "As soon as you create a piece of writing, you own it." True. She overlooks a few minor points, however. She started by "quoting" the copyright office web site, yet she edited the copy.

I replied . . .

Actually, nothing you said above is a direct quotation of the government web site. You paraphrased and you missed a few of the fine points. When the copyright laws were last changed, one big change was this: as soon as you create it, your work has a certain amount of protection that (apparently) does not require registration or the little "C" in a circle. The copyright office uses the term, "fixed in tangible form." Legally your work is protected, but unless you register it, you cannot seek redress in a court of law; some compensation cannot be obtained.

Writers often read and believe that whatever they write is fully protected as soon as they create the work. No fuss and no muss. The key words are "fully protected." Some writers never bother to ask themselves this simple question: if full protection exists as soon as they create something, why do they still need to register their work.

If you need a copyright, get one. If you are confused, ask a lawyer well versed in Intellectual Property laws and rights.

Someone else said . . .

"but you can still put your work in an envelope and have it sent to you via certified mail ect. (Poor Man's Copyright)."

I said (sigh) . . .

NO YOU CANNOT. Let us end that thinking right now. I have to say it again: THE POOR MAN'S COPYRIGHT IS BS, PERIOD. IT DOES NOT WORK. Editors, intellectual property lawyers, publishers, and most working professional writers will clarify this for you. The PMC is a silly notion and it needs to die.

Since you paraphrased the web site, why not paraphrase the part that tells you mailing something to yourself is worthless? The copyright office clearly states that this is a useless approach. If the official government copyright web site states in clear and unambiguous sentences that mailing something to yourself does not grant any protection, why argue with them? What is wrong with some of you?

Someone said (sigh, sigh, sigh) . . .

"You can also upload it to a server in .doc or .htm form, because servers keep a
log of when a file is upload, created, and last modified . . ."

I said, it will mean nothing if you go to court.

Also added was the same tired bull about the Poor Man's Copyright.
I replied . . .

Why tell us about clocks and uploads and servers and lions and tigers and bears, oh my? What happens if the server crashes and burns? What happens if someone changes something and screws up the time stamp? How do we know that the material someone uploaded to some server actually belongs to the uploader? You will find many web sites created by "control-A, control-V" web designers and "authors."

A list owner once banned me from his mailing list for "stealing" and posting an entire document without obtaining permission to do so. The list owner directed me to the site I stole from and then to the copyright office. Very helpful. The problem was the person I "stole" from actually lifted the work from my personal web site.

The only valid statement you have made is the this one "But the only way to really protect is to get a legitimate copyright on it." I agree. If you want to bother, bother to do it in a way that gives you dependable protection. If you cannot, at least provide some case law. Show me a few cases won by people waving the PMC in around. Then I will cite cases that have been tossed and 'findlaw dot com' will be very busy serving up your counter to my counter to your counter and we will be stuck. It is simple. If it matters to you, secure a proper copyright.

People are trying to find alternatives (read "cheaper and easier") to proper registration of their work. Why is it people do not want to do things correctly and be happy? We have a system in place and it usually works. We have strict laws that are well understood by lawyers (some of them, not all), the courts, the judges, and most every publisher in the county

Rank amateurs are often scared green and absolutely convinced that someone will steal their work. They honestly believe that they absolutely must protect everything they write. I do not think theft is rampant and uncontrolled.

So let me ask you (them) again, if your ideas about copyright are valid, can you provide some case law that supports the PMC and your contentions?

Bob Maxey - Salt Lake City, Utah


At 3:16 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

Suggest that you take a read about how this method can be faked at the poor man's copyright website


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