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DKM
09-09-2010, 11:15 PM
I've read a few threads on protecting your ms. Maybe I'm missing something here, but all of them say: don't worry about it. What you write is safe.

Sorry, but I've also read some horror stories about a jealous "writer" moving in, trying to claim an interest on a good selling adventure or romance novel too. He/she's stealing a good writer's thunder and money.

I've heard that if you have good paper copy of your ms (one that's been rewritten several times), put it in the post and mail it to yourself. But, under no circumstances should it ever be opened. This may stop some from weaseling in on your work.

I'd like to hear any other good ideas on this topic.

Cyia
09-09-2010, 11:18 PM
Poorman's copyright isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Once you right it, you have the copyright (unregistered, but still yours).

Stop worrying.

DeleyanLee
09-09-2010, 11:23 PM
Sorry, but I've also read some horror stories about a jealous "writer" moving in, trying to claim an interest on a good selling adventure or romance novel too. He/she's stealing a good writer's thunder and money.

I've heard that if you have good paper copy of your ms (one that's been rewritten several times), put it in the post and mail it to yourself. But, under no circumstances should it ever be opened. This may stop some from weaseling in on your work.

I'd like to hear any other good ideas on this topic.

Honestly, I've been doing this writing thing for more than 30 years, and I've never heard horror stories about a jealous "writer" moving in and making claims. Real claims end up in court in a plagerism case and that doesn't happen often at all--not when you consider all the thousands of books written any given year.

And the mailing the book to yourself (Poorman's copyright) hasn't been admissible in court since before I got my first rejection letter (1975). You can do it, sure, but it doesn't prove anything.

If you're concerned about it, then it's up to you to be aware of where you're posting it and who you're sending it to. You let it go all over the place and, frankly, you're inviting someone to use it without your knowledge. But that's true if it's your wallet, your personal ID or your book.

But a poorman's copyright won't do you any good if it goes to court, sorry.

kaitie
09-09-2010, 11:24 PM
Well, I'll tell you my opinion as someone mildly paranoid who used to be more paranoid. ;) Essentially, most of our work is safe. Legally, as soon as it's written it's copyright protected, so you don't have to worry about having to buy your own copyright, etc. So a lot of people who will advise to do a "poor man's copyright" are just plain wrong and that wouldn't likely hold up in a court of law anyway (who's to say you didn't just send an empty envelope to yourself and then insert the manuscript later?).

So essentially, that's useless. However plagiarism does happen, so I think it's mostly a matter of being smart. I personally don't post my work online, or at least not large chunks of it. A chapter or two is probably okay, but I would never post an entire novel. I've seen too many people have their technical writing "borrowed" to be posted on other websites and too many students just copy and paste assignments to feel comfortable putting it somewhere for the entire world to see and do as they please with it.

But if you're smart you should be okay. No one's going to be hacking your computer to steal your manuscript, and betas are generally safe and trustworthy (always a good idea to talk with them and know them at least to some degree first). My main concern is that copies will go out to people I don't want to have them. For instance, I don't want a friend to read a copy then lend it to someone else they think will like it. I like to know who has copies so I can keep track. I'm not really afraid of someone stealing it so much as people seeing copies that aren't meant for public consumption yet, but my friends all know this so they don't do it.

So those are basically my thoughts on the subject. In general, however, you're safe. I'd just personally avoid posting whole novels online unless you're just writing them for fun. Goodness knows I've got some fanfic out there (under assumed names of course lol) that I have no problem putting up because it's not my "serious" writing.

kaitie
09-09-2010, 11:26 PM
Oh, I just wanted to add something lol. You know, if someone really did steal a novel and try to publish it himself, he'd have to write a good query letter, put together lists of agents/publishers, spend months going through the process...

I really don't think most people are that ambitious lol.

Freelancer
09-09-2010, 11:41 PM
As others saying, stop worrying as these horror stories are rare. But as I also experienced a similar thing in the past, I also used to be careful as even if it's rare, maybe you can be the exception that with this "horror story" may happen. So here are few ideas...

There are dozen of methods. My favorite, add fail safes into your story. Plus, make a short advertisement for it via the net. i.e. my novel is known already by many and it's still not being published due to some reworks, but they can give me a solid back up to prove I'm the one who created my MS. People whose read your MS can prove you was the one who created it. Plus I used to sign a non-confidentiality agreement with every reader which also can be used as a proof. Fail safes are also good, where you're adding something into the MS which can prove it's yours.

My primary example: In the past someone stolen one of my MS, tried to sell it, but then she failed with one of the fail safes as there were two words, Aurora Dynamics, which is sounded as a fictive company in the story, but actually it was the name of my company that about only few knew (Including the person that to she tried to sell my MS.). I used to add tricky descriptions into the story which is always proving I was the one who created it (i.e. vital descriptions which seems average, but they have double meaning.).

Other versions... I used to register all my works via Writer's Guild of America. I always have a script for the novels, so I can do that as they're cross protections. But this is working only in that case if you have script. Or other version... always keep your letter exchanges regarding your novel. I have more then 3000 letters about my present project what I've changed with every people whoever got in touch with my fantasy WIP. Same goes for novel websites... IP logs. Always store them. That's a useful backup. Another version... small advertisement via the net, while you're not giving out any vital info regarding your novel. In that case the title is already connecting to you, that novel is already connecting to you. i.e. if you're writing into the google... "Crystal Shade", "Crystal Shade Angeni" or simply "Angeni", one of the first three hits are already belongs to my novel's website. Everyone can look after it, everyone can connect my name to it.

Your story can be safe, if you're making useful fail safes and make your work safe. Otherwise... be careful as I also faced with similar things, but I did against it and the one who tried to steal it failed greatly thanks to these fail safes. This thing is happening rarely, but it's better to be prepared for it, instead of leaving your MS vulnerable.

Terie
09-09-2010, 11:51 PM
Been plagiarised. Big time. And even *I* will say what everyone else does: don't worry about it. It's incredibly rare and the circumstances in which is happens are...unusual, notable, and recognisable. (In my case, the perp was told in writing to desist and carried on anyway.)

Poorman's copyright is worthless *in the US*. Other countries recognise it. It's best when making comments on copyright to either be sure that what you're saying applies internationally (that is, is explicitly stated in the actual Berne Convention itself) or else specify the locality about which you're speaking. Laws governing certain aspects of upholding the Berne Convention can vary from country to country.

James D. Macdonald
09-10-2010, 12:24 AM
I've heard that if you have good paper copy of your ms (one that's been rewritten several times), put it in the post and mail it to yourself. But, under no circumstances should it ever be opened. This may stop some from weaseling in on your work.


Oh, Ghod. "Poor Man's Copyright," again.

You heard wrong. Absolutely useless.

Theo81
09-10-2010, 12:27 AM
I think what we learn from Freelancer's story is that, when we steal others' work, change all of the names. Ctrl + F people.

Freelancer
09-10-2010, 12:33 AM
I think what we learn from Freelancer's story is that, when we steal others' work, change all of the names. Ctrl + F people. If you work out a poor fail safe, yes. But in my case that's also not going to work at all as everything is inbuilt into the story, the characters and the descriptions. You kill one part, other parts are also loosing their essence. "Names" are the easiest fail safes and was an easy example. But if someone is trying to do this with my work, that one will fail greatly as my fail safes are seems as a sublayer or a detail out of few hundred, a part of the story and you can find it only in that case if you know what you're looking for. Plus, if you find it and rewrite it at one place, you kill around 20 essential parts in the manuscript. If you rewrite it at two places, another 20 parts fails. And these are just the medium, "domino" fail safes. The hard ones are even trickier ones in my manuscripts. Even my name is encoded into the story at few places on a strange, hard way, just for fun. If that is not proving I was the one who created and wrote it, I don't know what can prove it's true origin. :)

Medievalist
09-10-2010, 12:36 AM
There's a spiffy Copyright FAQ right here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58845).

job
09-10-2010, 01:00 AM
I'd put this problem way at the bottom of things to worry about.
Really.

But let's say you want to worry about this.

Who has access to your unpublished work, anyway?
Jeesh.


a) Somebody who saw it posted on a review site.
solution: Don't post your work on review sites.

b) The writing partner you had a fight with.
Actually, this happens a lot. It's not so much someone simply stealing somebody else's work as someone feeling entitled to half the manuscript and dragging the partner's work off with it.

This is where a lot of the, 'she stole my work', stories come from.

solution: Make an agreement from the getgo who has rights to what, if the partnership breaks up at any stage of the work.

solution: Solution (f) also applies.

solution: The real solution is to put off doing partnerships till both authors have been published a while.

c) Your former boyfriend.
solution: If your personal life is full of upheaval, password protect your computer. You also better cancel your credit cards. Just be glad he doesn't have nude photos of you. Unless he does.

d) Members of your online crit group.
solution: Do not post significant parts of a work in any forum with open access. See (a) above.

e) Members of your IRL crit group.
solution: Do not share more than half of the work with a crit group. Also, see (f).

f) Your betas
Your betas see the final work, whole, at the last stage.

solution: Use people you trust.

g) Shady literary agents and publishers
I suppose somebody could get robbed by such folks, though it hardly seems worth their while. They're not in the business of selling manuscripts.

solution: Go to legitimate agents and publishers. Let me count the reasons why you should do this.


h) Legitimate publishing professionals.

doesn't need a solution because it doesn't happen.

Becky Black
09-10-2010, 01:00 AM
Also, the reason you do hear about the horror stories is because they are so rare, which makes them news. There's a lot of published and unpublished stuff floating around out there and the percentage of it that gets stolen is barely a rounding error.

James D. Macdonald
09-10-2010, 07:53 PM
What gets plagiarized?

Published work.

Why?

Because unpublished manuscripts are worthless.

If you really want to protect your manuscript, multiple backups in multiple places will protect it against loss from fire, flood, virus, hard drive failure, and accidentally pressing the "delete" button instead of the "save" button (far more likely than plagiarism).

Mr Flibble
09-10-2010, 08:04 PM
Sorry, but I've also read some horror stories about a jealous "writer" moving in, trying to claim an interest on a good selling adventure or romance novel too. He/she's stealing a good writer's thunder and money.

Can you give examples? I can't think of any I've heard of motivated by jealousy....and there are few examples for a reason.

Plus what every one else said :D

DKM
09-12-2010, 02:24 AM
Thanks for the excellent responses. Everyone had something valuable to say or add. A few years ago, I read about a big case out on the west coast where someone claimed an interest in a romance novel. The case went to trial and the legal fees went over $200,000. In the end, the writer won, but it obviously left a bitter tastes in her mouth.

But, as almost everyone said, these situations are rare. Just knowing that helps. AW is a great web site. What would I do w/out you guys?

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 02:59 AM
Because unpublished manuscripts are worthless.
Actually many would not agree with this. Even if a manuscript is unpublished, it's your own creation, your own property. If someone is plagarize an unpublished work, i.e. a fully finished beta, but you have proof that you created that world, those characters, those events, etc, etc... prior the other work's publishing date AND you can prove the two work is connected or the other author read yours in the past one way or another, in that case that's also plagarizing and punishible by the law regardless your WIP is unpublished.

Unpublished manuscripts are not worthless at all, only for those who consider their own WIP as a worthless manuscript.

job
09-12-2010, 03:20 AM
I read about a big case out on the west coast where someone claimed an interest in a romance novel. The case went to trial and the legal fees went over $200,000.

A Romance novel . . . ?
This does not ring any bells, and it's in my own field of writing. Maybe somebody else will recognize the reference.

If you're worried that you will write and publish and then someone will pop up, flourishing a manuscript and saying they wrote it first,
do not give copies of your manuscript to untrustworthy people.

You need not do anything else to safeguard the manuscript.

Maxinquaye
09-12-2010, 03:43 AM
Ideas are one tenth of a penny for about 1000 dozen.

An unpublished manuscript is about 1 penny a dozen.

Don't worry about it.

If you write the next Harry Potter, then you might get sued for plagiarism by someone that wants to cash in.

But by then you should be able to handle it.

scarletpeaches
09-12-2010, 03:46 AM
Actually many would not agree with this. Even if a manuscript is unpublished, it's your own creation, your own property. If someone is plagarize an unpublished work, i.e. a fully finished beta, but you have proof that you created that world, those characters, those events, etc, etc... prior the other work's publishing date AND you can prove the two work is connected or the other author read yours in the past one way or another, in that case that's also plagarizing and punishible by the law regardless your WIP is unpublished.

Unpublished manuscripts are not worthless at all, only for those who consider their own WIP as a worthless manuscript.Unpublished manuscripts are often not worth the paper they're printed on.

If you're a talented writer, write your own.

If you're untalented and/or lazy, stealing someone else's book won't get you anywhere because you likely won't have the wherewithal to complete and publish it.

Me, personally, I've got enough ideas of my own to preclude having to steal someone else's book. I've yet to see any evidence of this even happening.

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 03:55 AM
Unpublished manuscripts are often not worth the paper they're printed on.
Often, but not always. If your work worth the price of the paper and can be published, it's already worth something otherwise none of us would be ever get any sort of payment for our stuff, right?

If you're a talented writer, write your own.I'm always writing my own work, just as you do Scarlet.

If you're untalented and/or lazy, stealing someone else's book won't get you anywhere because you likely won't have the wherewithal to complete and publish it.So true, but there are people who still try this and from that moment they may ruin your moment and make years of work to obsolote. Even if it's never going to happen with you or others, it's always better if you're prepared for this sort of scenario as even if it's rare, it can happen.

Me, personally, I've got enough ideas of my own to preclude having to steal someone else's book. I've yet to see any evidence of this even happening.I already experienced this in the past, so I'm rather cautious since that time regardless I've achieved victory over the one who stolen my work (That wasn't plagarizm. That was 1:1 stealing of my finished stuff what she wanted to publish. Then my usual manuscript fail safes saved the day.).

PsychicToaster
09-12-2010, 06:17 AM
If you're a real writer, you already have too many of your own ideas that you're having problems writing down in time. Stealing someone else's work and trying to shoe-horn their ideas into your style just makes more work for yourself.

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 06:29 AM
If you're a real writer, you already have too many of your own ideas that you're having problems writing down in time. Stealing someone else's work and trying to shoe-horn their ideas into your style just makes more work for yourself.If you're a real writer, you also know that others whose want quick money with little work investment rather take your ideas away. This is a two way road. You might have dozens and dozens of ideas, but I knew some writers whose worked on this way, rather took the ideas of others away because it was easier.

Best example... the beta readers section here at AW. Newbie after min. one, max three short posts states that (s)he wants to read your novel. Do you really believe that some newbie appears without any sort of introduction, without any traceable background just to read scripts? Then another untracable newbie without any background appears also with min. one, max three posts to say... the one who offered the read is a trustworthy beta reader. Nah. Don't be naive. I'm not saying that all of the people or the newbies are like this. But I'm not saying all of them are honest either.

The world and the people in it are not that good as few of you imagine. There are many bad people out there.

veinglory
09-12-2010, 06:41 AM
Sorry, but I've also read some horror stories about a jealous "writer" moving in, trying to claim an interest on a good selling adventure or romance novel too.

Can you give many actual examples? Like with names? Of an unpublished manuscript? Of material that copyright would protect (words, not ideas)?

Amadan
09-12-2010, 06:42 AM
Best example... the beta readers section here at AW. Newbie after min. one, max three short posts states that (s)he wants to read your novel. Do you really believe that some newbie appears without any sort of introduction, without any traceable background just to read scripts?


Actually, yes, I find it easier to believe that a lot of enthusiastic n00bs show up eager to offer beta services because they're (usually) young and desperate to be helpful and taken seriously, than to believe that sinister would-be plagiarizers are trolling writers' forums to steal other unpublished writers' manuscripts.

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 06:48 AM
As you said, usually. But that's not 100%. As we're here to help each other, I'm also highlighting the other possibility what no one dares to imagine or write down directly... but unfortunately it's also a possibility.

Mr Flibble
09-12-2010, 06:49 AM
Thanks for the excellent responses. Everyone had something valuable to say or add. A few years ago, I read about a big case out on the west coast where someone claimed an interest in a romance novel. The case went to trial and the legal fees went over $200,000. In the end, the writer won, but it obviously left a bitter tastes in her mouth.

Claimed an interest? What does that mean They helped co-wroie it or...what?

How do you claim an interest in something you've had no part of - unless it's fan fic or something..

I R confused.

Please , a concrete example would help sooooooo much

Amadan
09-12-2010, 06:51 AM
As you said, usually. But that's not 100%. As we're here to help each other, I'm also highlighting the other possibility what no one dares to imagine or write down directly... but unfortunately it's also a possibility.

Yeah, it's a possibility. It's also a possibility that a Hollywood movie producer will see the query you post in SYW and contact you to offer a 7-figure deal based on your premise.

Mr Flibble
09-12-2010, 07:02 AM
Yeah, it's a possibility.

It's possible that Jonny Depp and Karl Urban will appear in a baby oil jacuzzi I don't yet own... but it's rather unlikely.

It's also possible that I'll be eaten by a T rex tomorrow.

Be careful; check. But don't have such an ego trip you think people will be desperate to steal your stuff. Because, hey, you're probably only okay. If you are a genius - it'll come out soon enough

M.R.J. Le Blanc
09-12-2010, 07:11 AM
An unpublished manuscript isn't worth stealing. In order to sell it, it needs to be edited and polished, then query letters and out to agents and editors. Then you have to hope someone will still want to buy it. For someone lazy, it's not worth their time. That's why most plaigarism cases involve works that have already been published; it's easier. Sure it's possible someone might steal your work. But it happens so little.

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 07:16 AM
Yeah, it's a possibility. It's also a possibility that a Hollywood movie producer will see the query you post in SYW and contact you to offer a 7-figure deal based on your premise.
That's rather a dream. :) But you know you may make a joke about it, but if you experienced this in your life, you would think this otherwise. This is a possibility, it's happening in very rare cases and people, including writers are used to be very naive.

An unpublished manuscript isn't worth stealing.That's a naive statement. Only the lack of a little editing is missing? The best preys. Why? Developed storyline. Developed characters. Developed idea. Give it to a writer for hire or a ghostwriter, even for an editor, or do it by yourself... and volia, it's ready.

i.e. Do you think Lost was an original story? It was developed in 1977 by a guy named Anthony Spinner who sent it to the studio. Then he tried to sell it in 1991, then in 94. He failed both times. Now the lawsuit goes in the matter. Does his unpublished manuscript was worthless? It seems not, because someone used it greately to create five seasons of Lost.

blacbird
09-12-2010, 07:25 AM
That's rather a dream. :) But you know you may make a joke about it, but if you experienced this in your life, you would think this otherwise. This is a possibility, it's happening in very rare cases and people, including writers are used to be very naive.


Name one.

The best way to protect your manuscript is to write a damn good one and get it published in a traditional way.

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 07:31 AM
I just did. Check the post above your one.

The best way to protect your manuscript is to write a damn good one and get it published in a traditional way.You know, sometimes some people are holding some scripts back to don't create a race between the already known writer and you, unpublished writer. They used to do two options in this case.

Variation A. They buy the rights of your stuff and then it's never going to be published, rather lands in a desk and stays there for the eternity.

OR

Variation B, they're rejecting your stuff, then write a very similar one with one of the celeb writers.

I know people, very talented writers whose faced with Variation A. Some of my writer friends knows people whose faced with Variation B. So yes, unfortunately these are also possibilites.

8thSamurai
09-12-2010, 07:33 AM
. Only the lack of a little editing is missing? The best preys. Why? Developed storyline. Developed characters. Developed idea. Give it to a writer for hire or a ghostwriter, even for an editor, or do it by yourself... and volia, it's ready.



This statement right here screams lack of experience and knowledge in the field.

Mr Flibble
09-12-2010, 07:37 AM
If you're a real writer, you also know that others whose want quick money with little work investment rather take your ideas away./QUOTE]

Anyone who has delusions of quick money is sadly deluding themselves...
[QUOTE]


This is a possibility So is Johnny Depp and Karl Urban in my jacizzi. The changes of it happening....about the same tbh. Nice dream, but just a dream.

That's a naive statement. Only the lack of a little editing is missing? The best preys. Why? Developed storyline. Developed characters. Developed idea. Give it to writer for hire or a ghostwriter, even for an editor... volia, it's ready. So your book gives someone an idea...movies have given me ideas., Unless I copy them wholesale, not plagiarism. Influenced by. Happens al the time. Get used to it. Unless they use a character by the name you've given them and out them in a situation you've given them, influenced by is all you will get

And I am glad tis so. The day a writer cannot use another work fro inspiration is the day art dies. Because if I painted but was not allowed to paint in the style of say Monet...

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 07:44 AM
I'm not talking about getting inspirations. I'm talking about the possibilites above what might awaits for naive people. Some of those things are from my personal experience. And some are the experience of my friends. As I wrote above, you may make a joke about it, but unfortunely it's existing. It's rare, but it's existing. Even if you or others don't want to or simply can't imagine it... Nah. What do I expect from people? I'm stupid that I'm asking them to understand something what they never experienced. Tsk-tsk-tsk. You're so naive Freelancer...

You know what? Experience it by yourself at least once in a life time. That's the best. Good luck. :)

Mr Flibble
09-12-2010, 07:52 AM
I'm not talking about getting inspirations. I'm talking about the possibilites above what might awaits for naive people. Some of those things are from my personal experience. And some are the experience of my friends

Please. examples. Real, accountable ones.

' I know this guy' isn't actually evidence...
Scams happen. But (mostly) not to people who do any kind of research. Because that brings up scams. And instances of plagiarism are usually very quickly discovered.

ETA; Plagiarism does happen. About as often as an aeroplane ditches in the sea. It's not often, but prepare against it/

veinglory
09-12-2010, 07:59 AM
I agree, examples please. If it is common enough to protect against, that shouldn't be hard. And remember, copyright doesn't help if someone steals your idea--so it needs to be an example where they stole the actual text of an unpublished manuscript.

Medievalist
09-12-2010, 08:06 AM
You know what? Experience it by yourself at least once in a life time. That's the best. Good luck. :)

Oh pu-leeze.

1. Writers in countries that are signatories of the Berne convention are covered by copyright the minute they start to write.

2. You can't protect an idea, a theme, or a motif.

3. An unpubulished ms. especially by a relatively unknown writer is worthless to anyone but the writer. It has no value.

4. It's pretty easy to assert, and prove copyright, with basic evidence--like drafts, correspondence, and a deep familiarity with the text in question.

Freelancer
09-12-2010, 08:10 AM
Well... the OP asked here... is there anything what from writers should afraid. Some of you continuously saying, no-no-no. There is nothing. But there are people whose are also said, yes. They, including me, explained few things and everything what we said is like a pickaxe into your head... in your left ear, out on your right.

So, you know what? I'm not going to prove anything as I already wrote down few stories above. You already decided everything in yourself and regardless what I would present or what horror story would I tell you, you wouldn't believe me as you would say... Oh, sorry, I can't give you credit for this, because I can't believe it. And my answer would be... I don't give a damn what you believe. That's how things are used to work here at AW. And for me, this mentality, "Now I'M, the great XY is going to decide you can get a credit from me or not"... well, this is very boring and time consuming. So I'm not going to waste my time.

I wrote down some warnings based on my app. 11+ years of experience and on the experience of those ones that I know. Smart ones will accept my advice and will be cautious. The others... that's not my problem. <shrug> I did my best.

Sorry. I'm not going to argue with children.

blacbird
09-12-2010, 08:15 AM
Sorry. I'm not going to argue with children.

I believe you just managed to call the single most respected and experienced and successful writer in this place a "child". Congrats. I suspect you'll soon be hearing from a moderator.

Birol
09-12-2010, 08:21 AM
Thread closed and under review.

Birol
09-12-2010, 08:33 AM
Yeah, thread can remain closed. It's going in circles.