View Full Version : FAQ: Copyright

03-22-2007, 07:09 AM
First, notice the difference between copyright (http://www.bartleby.com/61/37/C0633700.html) and copywriter (http://www.bartleby.com/61/38/C0633800.html). Copyright is the legal term.

Keep in mind that copyright is different in different countries, and that not only am I not a lawyer, but that if you have serious questions, you really want a lawyer who deals specifically with copyright law and publishing.

Don't miss the WritingNovels FAQ on Copyright (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=657721&postcount=9) that KatieMac created.

External Resources About Copyright:

The actual statute (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sup_01_17.html).

The Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center (http://fairuse.stanford.edu/).

American Publisher's Association Copyright Resources (http://www.publishers.org/about/copyrightresources.cfm), including information about how to request rights.

The Music Publisher's Association Copyright Resources (http://www.mpa.org/copyright_resource_center/) site can be helpful in determining who to contact for permissions, and how to request (http://www.mpa.org/copyright_resource_center/copyright_search)permission.

DMCA The Digital Millennium Copyright Act:

The DMCA deals specifically with digital copyright, especially on the Internet.

An overview of the DMCA (http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/iclp/dmca1.htm), from the UCLA library school.

The government memorandum (http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf) that summarizes the DMCA.

The US Government Copyright Office Registration Information page (http://www.copyright.gov/register/)

Poorman's Copyright:

The idea behind Poorman's Copyright is that you place your manuscript in an envelope and mail it to yourself; the sealed envelope and the postmark are then "proof" of your creation date.

This is stupid.

It is also a myth; poorman's copyright will do nothing for you in terms of asserting your rights. You have copyright from the moment you create a text or other applicable work. Copyright is automatic. Registration of copyright is another matter. Poorman's Copyright never really worked; it wasn't intended to be used for copyright protection; instead, it an artifact of evidence law, and not copyright law. In fact, post 1909, it has no utility at all in the U.S. as proof of much of anything.

Keep your drafts, at least a few. Keep hardcopy with your hand-written note, letters to or from beta readers and editors, or files with track changes. Keep your working notes and research files. They are potentially supporting evidence.

Registering or Not Registering Copyright:

Keep in mind that you have copyright for your creation, even without registering. Also keep in mind that it's usually best to let your publisher register the copyright when the work is ready to be published. As Jaws says here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=118431&postcount=223)
There is a lot less "ripping off" of copyrighted material going on than most authors (and songwriters) believe. This is true whether it's publishers, or editors, or agents, or just other authors "involved.

Writer Beware on Why Not to Register Copyright for Unpublished Work (http://www.accrispin.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-not-to-register-copyright-for.html)

Copyright (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21309)

Here's James Macdonald, with more books and years of experience writing than most of us will ever have answering the question "Should I register my book's copyright?"

"Short Answer: No"--and Macdonald tells you why (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1443415#post1443415).

If you really think you must register copyright before you publish or are about to be published (usually a publisher will register for you, in your name, and pay all fees) here's where to start the U.S. copyright registration process (http://www.copyright.gov/register/literary.html).

Song lyrics and Quotations:

Permission to use song lyrics in a book? (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8231)

Incorporating song lyrics - copyright/legal problems? (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38354)

Copyright ? (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40456)