View Full Version : Important copyright question

Lantern Jack
07-14-2005, 07:12 AM

07-14-2005, 09:51 AM
I think the solution is simple. Don't publish online.

I've heard that publishers really frown on that kind of thing for reasons you've already pointed out.

If you want to share your work with friends, mail them a copy. Email it in an attachment, even, in read-only format.

As for what you've already put online, there's no helping it. Always preface your work with a copyright claim, but otherwise, there's not a whole lot you can do. You may not have worried about it then -- but you seem pretty paranoid about it now, and even if no one steals your work, the stress from the possibility isn't worth the hassle.

Good luck.

Tish Davidson
07-14-2005, 10:19 AM
You must have a pretty good opinion of your work to think that dozens of people want to steal it. If it's that good you should be sending it to an agent, not wasting your time posting it in cyberspace.

07-14-2005, 04:27 PM
You don't know, and if it's any good it probably is being pirated and pasted over over heck and gone. Unless there's a truly astounding reason, it just makes no sense at all to have your work online.

07-14-2005, 04:31 PM
Well, some work that does get stolen is not really worth selling. For example, there was one time I wrote a mocking how-to guide for people who argue about cars on the Internet without actually knowing much of anything about cars. It might take up two printed pages. And it was so blatantly offensive that very few magazines, except maybe Car Craft, would have any interest in publishing it.

Now, I see that piece copied and pasted on quite a few message boards. Could I have made any money from it? Probably not. I'm just glad I have the satisfaction of knowing that I wrote one of the anonymous Internet humor forwards. Because that was really the best I could have hoped for with that piece.

On the other hand, there are some write-ups I've given away online that I sometimes wonder if I could have made money off of now. But it's too late. Luckily, they're pretty short works.

With publishing on the Internet, you don't really have much control of what happens to your text once you let it go. The best you can do is get paid at the point where it leaves your hands. On the upside, it's not very likely to turn up in print, just on other websites.

aka eraser
07-14-2005, 07:17 PM
Jack, email your chapter to Jenna. That will rid you of one worry. Remove pieces from your site after a couple of weeks. That will cut down on the chances of them being nicked.

But your main concern shouldn't be theft. Nobody associated with mainstream publishing is interested in stealing work. A bigger concern is some mainstream pubs considering posted work to be published and thus first (and most valuable) rights to have been used.

If posting fragments/chapters in places like Share Your Work for feedback, don't title the work and introduce it as a work-in-progress. Get your feedback, thank the critiquers, and then delete the material.

Lantern Jack
07-14-2005, 08:04 PM
...unpublished pieces stored at www.epinions.com (http://www.epinions.com). If I delete them, I have no place to put them. Plus, Online, don't they function as a sort of Poor Man' Copyright, since the company itself dates every entry and when it was last updated. So, doesn't that protect and prove I am, at the very least, the original owner. So, even if I couldn't sue for damages, couldn't I just point to these entries and their dates and say, "These are mine"?

07-14-2005, 09:37 PM
If they are not visible (I presume that this is what you mean by "unpublished"), you shouldn't have to worry about someone stealing them at all. Hacking into a database for written content is pretty much unheard of, as that would be sort of like breaking into a publisher's and stealing their slush pile, making off with two or three publishable manuscripts and several hundred books that would never be commercially viable. Trying to make a living from that would probably pay less than honest work.

My original posts had a few comments on Epinions' terms of services. They have changed somewhat since I last viewed them several years ago and are now less restrictive.

Lantern Jack
07-14-2005, 09:42 PM

07-14-2005, 11:34 PM
Nobody is interested in steaking your epinions.com postings.

If you consider them so valuable, download them and store them in a couple of Yahoo or GMail accounts.

Tish Davidson
07-15-2005, 02:05 AM
...and here's what I've found: copyright protection and the copyright itself, as I've previously stated, starts the moment you've applied your work in a tangible form. THIS COPYRIGHT PROTECTION EXTENDS TO THE INTERNET. In order to file for damages, one must file for copyright registration with the US Copyright Office, but you have to do this anyway. Still, according to my research, as soon as I type out my ideas, they are, unquestionably, immutably, undeniably, indestructibly copyrighted (that's one durable, little symbol) in paper, cyber or pixelated form. They are mine. I CAN sue to prove I own a piece. So, if I choose to publish chapters of the books Jenna wants me to write in Share Your Work and someone lifts them, and later, my authorship is called into question, I can point to the various versions of my work, all dated--such as at www.epinions.com (http://www.epinions.com), and assert that they're mine.

Yes, jack, we all know this. Maybe you should do a search of the copyright threads in the freelance and novel forums instead of trying to re-educate all of us with your discoveries.