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CopyrightDeposit.com

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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Stijn Hommes

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Someone from India showed me a document for their manuscript from this site, which offers copyright protection across 164 countries. Sounds fishy to me.
What is the official way to register copyright in India?

(Yes, I know you don't need to register copyright to have it. But it's very handy when you need proof in court.)
 

JulieB

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Adding link: http://copyrightdeposit.com

Take a look at the FAQ. INAL, but while they're correct in saying the Berne Convention doesn't require you to register your copyright with the government, there are advantages for doing so. Take a look at the FAQ at the U. S. Copyright Office. While it isn't necessary to register your copyright with the government, doing so means you could be entitled to statutory damages and attorney fees should you go to court and win your case.

This appears to be the site for information on copyright registration in India: http://copyright.gov.in/. You should be able to find all the official info you need there.
 

M.R.J. Le Blanc

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Keep in mind though, that theft of unpublished manuscripts is VERY rare. 95% of such cases where you'd need to prove copyright is after the book's been published, and by then your publisher has registered the copyright.
 

JulieB

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Keep in mind though, that theft of unpublished manuscripts is VERY rare. 95% of such cases where you'd need to prove copyright is after the book's been published, and by then your publisher has registered the copyright.

This is true.

What they offer is a secure record that you registered your work with that service. Since I'm not a lawyer, I really don't know how that would stand up in court.
 

Terie

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Keep in mind though, that theft of unpublished manuscripts is VERY rare. 95% of such cases where you'd need to prove copyright is after the book's been published, and by then your publisher has registered the copyright.

While this is true if someone nicks your published work, if they nick your unpublished work, the copyright won't be registered unless you did it yourself.

That said, I'm a victim of IP theft of unpublished work (settled out of court), and even now I wouldn't bother registering my copyright, especially not in India (because I don't live there or write for that market). The circumstances in which work is stolen are typically too far out of the ordinary to be able to anticipate by registering your copyright around the world.
 

suki

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This is true.

What they offer is a secure record that you registered your work with that service. Since I'm not a lawyer, I really don't know how that would stand up in court.

My understanding is that nothing but actual copyright is copyright (which I strongly suggest not registering until the work is published, for many reasons). And my impression is that this service would do no more in court than help you prove when you had the work completed, which can be shown through other means already - like email, computer date stamps, testimony from other people who read it, etc.

Seems like a waste of time and energy to me - and yes, money.

~suki
 
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victoriastrauss

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These are merely moneymaking schemes. They do not provide any sort of official registration, no matter what they claim (most countries have no official registration process, anyway--and in the very few that do, nothing is a substitute for registration with that country's copyright office). And whatever evidentiary benefits they might provide can be easily duplicated just by keeping drafts, correspondence, research, submission records, and so on.

In the USA, you do need to have previously registered copyright in order to sue in court if your work is infringed, but as others have pointed out, there's little chance of this with unpublished work, so there's no need to register an unpublished manuscript. Once you do get published, your publisher may register for you, at its own expense. If it doesn't, you can easily do it yourself. You're eligible for the full range of damages if you register within 3 months of publication or prior to the infringement. Even if you register after the 3-month window, or post-infringement, you're eligible for a more limited range of damages.

See these posts from Writer Beware's blog on why copyright "registration" services aren't worth paying for. Some may even be scams.

- Victoria
 

djf881

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There is nothing this site offers that you couldn't achieve by e-mailing the document to yourself through Gmail and creating a date-stamped record of the manuscript.
 

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Medievalist

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There is nothing this site offers that you couldn't achieve by e-mailing the document to yourself through Gmail and creating a date-stamped record of the manuscript.

None of these offer a damned thing in terms of copyright besides wasting time and money.
 

djf881

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Sorry, but what you've described in a new-fangled variation on "poor man's copyright" which is not recognized by US copyright law as a viable alternative. Much more information on US copyright is available here..


A copyright vests automatically when the work is created. Unlike a patent, which must be applied for, or a trademark, which must be registered, you don't have to do anything to be protected by copyright law. If you created the work, you own the copyright.

These sites do not register the copyright with the Copyright Office, and their fees are cheaper than registration with the copyright office. All they do is store an archive of your work on their server with a date-stamp on it. If the infringer disputes your claim that you created the work before he infringed, you can use this data as evidence.

You can create the same proof that you are the work's creator by e-mailing it to yourself, or by sending yourself a copy by registered mail in a sealed envelope, or any other method of establishing your possession of the work on a specific date.
 

benbradley

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A copyright vests automatically when the work is created. Unlike a patent, which must be applied for, or a trademark, which must be registered, you don't have to do anything to be protected by copyright law. If you created the work, you own the copyright.

These sites do not register the copyright with the Copyright Office, and their fees are cheaper than registration with the copyright office. All they do is store an archive of your work on their server with a date-stamp on it. If the infringer disputes your claim that you created the work before he infringed, you can use this data as evidence.

You can create the same proof that you are the work's creator by e-mailing it to yourself, or by sending yourself a copy by registered mail in a sealed envelope, or any other method of establishing your possession of the work on a specific date.
Out of all of those, the "registered mail in a sealed envelope" would likely be the weakest, for reasons I've read before (too easy to tamper with).

Different versions of the work on various media (hard drive, thumb drive, CD-R) that you saved while writing it may be good, but then it's not hard to change the dates on computer files. It's a lot harder to hack Gmail's servers, online backup services, portions posted in SYW, or other Internet "cloud" services, and if I were a judge I'd trust the timestamp of a file saved on these a lot more than I would dates on a local file or printout, even in a sealed-and-mailed envelope.

But I'm neither a judge nor a lawyer, etc.
 

victoriastrauss

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All they do is store an archive of your work on their server with a date-stamp on it. If the infringer disputes your claim that you created the work before he infringed, you can use this data as evidence.

This is nothing you can't accomplish yourself by keeping drafts, correspondence referencing the work, submission records, notes, research, and the like--all without paying a penny.

You can create the same proof that you are the work's creator by e-mailing it to yourself, or by sending yourself a copy by registered mail in a sealed envelope, or any other method of establishing your possession of the work on a specific date.

As has already been pointed out, this method--known as poor man's copyright--will probably not stand up in court, because it's easy to fake. You could have changed the time/date on your computer, or you could have mailed the envelope to yourself empty, and filled it later.

This post from the excellent blog Plagiarism Today goes into more detail about why poor man's copyright is useless.

- Victoria
 

JulieB

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This is nothing you can't accomplish yourself by keeping drafts, correspondence referencing the work, submission records, notes, research, and the like--all without paying a penny.

Quoted for truth. 'Nuff said.

This post from the excellent blog Plagiarism Today goes into more detail about why poor man's copyright is useless.

That site is an amazing resource. The owner is not a lawyer, but he's very savvy on copyright and plagiarism-related issues.
 

djf881

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This is nothing you can't accomplish yourself by keeping drafts, correspondence referencing the work, submission records, notes, research, and the like--all without paying a penny.

As has already been pointed out, this method--known as poor man's copyright--will probably not stand up in court, because it's easy to fake. You could have changed the time/date on your computer, or you could have mailed the envelope to yourself empty, and filled it later.

This post from the excellent blog Plagiarism Today goes into more detail about why poor man's copyright is useless.

- Victoria

You don't need proof to have the copyright. The copyright exists upon the creation of the work. You may need proof to enforce the copyright, if the defendant disputes your claim that you created the work, and, instead, claims it is his original work.

"Poor Man's copyright" seems to be a non-legal term that encompasses any method of establishing that you are the creator of a work that is not registered. The services that this company provides would fall under that umbrella, because they do not register the work with the US Copyright Office. They store a copy of the work remotely, they date-stamp it, and you can use that as evidence that you created the work.

Evidence of "poor man's copyright" is not inherently weak; as this article notes, it is weak if a judge or jury is unlikely to view it credibly, and pointless if it does not support your claim or if a dispute over authorship is not the matter at issue. A registered envelope may not be persuasive if the fact-finder believes it's easy to fake. And, as the article notes, it certainly would not be helpful if the postmark on the envelope is after the start of the dispute (duh). A local computer file with a date-stamp that can be easily manipulated is similarly problematic. But if you have proof of your copyright that is difficult to falsify, then it is persuasive evidence.

For example, an e-mail sent through Google's remote server and stored in G-mail, date stamped by Google is, as far as I know, impossible to fake, and therefore, persuasive. The testimony of a witness who viewed or read the work on a certain date might similarly be persuasive.

For example, you could call your beta readers or your critique group as witnesses to provide sworn testimony that they read the work on such-date. You might be able to back this testimony up with e-mail records remotely stored in G-Mail.

The article is correct that disputes over authorship are rare and unlikely, which is why you don't need to bother registering unpublished work with the copyright office.
 
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Medievalist

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All they do is store an archive of your work on their server with a date-stamp on it. If the infringer disputes your claim that you created the work before he infringed, you can use this data as evidence.

You can create the same proof that you are the work's creator by e-mailing it to yourself, or by sending yourself a copy by registered mail in a sealed envelope, or any other method of establishing your possession of the work on a specific date.

It doesn't work. It hasn't worked as evidence in U.S. courts since sometime in the 1920s.
 

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This is nothing you can't accomplish yourself by keeping drafts, correspondence referencing the work, submission records, notes, research, and the like--all without paying a penny.



As has already been pointed out, this method--known as poor man's copyright--will probably not stand up in court, because it's easy to fake. You could have changed the time/date on your computer, or you could have mailed the envelope to yourself empty, and filled it later.

This post from the excellent blog Plagiarism Today goes into more detail about why poor man's copyright is useless.

- Victoria

I chased the blog Victoria referred to.

The Plagiarism Today post mentioned a service called NUMLY that provides bar coded timestamping of material.

Here is a snip from their website:
"Numly Numbers can be assigned to any digital asset. These electronic serial numbers (ESNs) enable rights statements (All Rights Reserved and Creative Commons) to be associated with digital content. Our Numly Numbers also serve as third-party, non-repudiation measures for proof of copyright with real-time verifications." --NUMLY Web 2.0 Copyright and Rights Assignment Services

Has anyone any experience with NUMLY?

Thanks,
Stan
 

kaitie

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Wouldn't most of us be able to just take simple precautions to lessen the likelihood of our work being stolen and be okay? The most likely case I can think of for an unpublished work would be to have it posted online somewhere where all someone has to do is hit a ctrl+A and copy it to their own website and say "Oh I wrote this." I've seen that done numerous, numerous times, not sure about novels, but I've seen it done with short stories, and mostly done with nonfiction or informative sites, but it does happen. I'm sure other cases can happen as well, and I don't know about Terie's case, but wouldn't the smartest thing to do be just to be cautious about where we put our work? Don't post your whole novel on your website, for instance. Don't just randomly send it out to people you don't know. That sort of thing? That makes the most sense to me.
 

Terie

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Without getting into all the gory details about my case and how it happened (which I won't do publically), suffice it to say that had I pursued the case, I would've won. No poor man's copyright; no registering copyright. I just had copies of the draft files in several iterations, and it was sufficient.
 

djf881

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It doesn't work. It hasn't worked as evidence in U.S. courts since sometime in the 1920s.

"Poor Man's Copyright" is not an area of law or a concept that exists in law. It is a term non-lawyers have attached to evidence authors create to prove their authorship, because they are afraid the authorship of their work may be disputed. This rarely happens, but is, nonetheless obsessed over by unpublished authors.

Copyright protection vests as soon as the work is created. Nothing has to be registered to confer ownership of the copyright on the owner. In the United States, every "poor man" who creates something automatically gets the copyright.

In the very rare case that somebody steals an unpublished work, and then claims to have written it himself, evidence establishing the author's possession of the work on a specific date before the plagiarist claims to have created may be probative to establishing the copyright owner's authorship, or to disproving the claim of a false author.

It is difficult to imagine this kind of evidence being probative to any other sort of dispute. I suspect most copyright lawsuits brought by unpublished authors are met with defenses that the alleged infringing work is coincidentally similar in some respects, but does not infringe the plaintiff's copyright. In this case neither "poor man's copyright" nor registration is pertinent to the central factual question of whether the allegedly infringing work actually infringes the copyright.

However, if an issue of disputed authorship has ever gone to trial, then evidence of authorship must necessarily have been introduced, weighed by a jury, and used in making a determination.

Mailing yourself a copy of the work to prove that you wrote it is not a substitute for registration, because registration confers certain rights on plaintiffs, including statutory damages. However it shouldn't be a big deal for any author to prove he created his work, through draft versions, preserved locally and on remote servers, through a history of submitting the work, and through the testimony of witnesses who saw the work and can corroborate the author's version of the facts.

A case where the author's sole proof of authorship was a registered letter he sent to himself would likely fall through. Moreover, many authors who create such evidence as a safeguard may later believe it establishes something pertinent in a case where the date of creation really isn't at issue.

But there's no reason I am aware of that would prevent any evidence of authorship from being presented to a jury. As to whether a registered envelope would be easily impeached by arguments about tampering, I'm really not sure. It seems likely such evidence could be discredited. An e-mail would probably stand up better. I don't know of any way to falsify the time stamp on an e-mail through a service like Gmail.

Saved drafts timestamped by a remote computer would be stronger evidence than saved drafts timestamped by a local computer, because you can modify the timestamps on local files. I always email my work to myself so I can revert to older versions if I change my mind about something, and to preserve the work in case of computer failure.
 
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Medievalist

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"Poor Man's Copyright" is not an area of law or a concept that exists in law. It is a term non-lawyers have attached to evidence authors create to prove their authorship, because they are afraid the authorship of their work may be disputed. This rarely happens, but is, nonetheless obsessed over by unpublished authors.

You're not really reading the posts in this thread, are you?

You keep bloviating on issues that no one is actually arguing about.

An e-mail would probably stand up better. I don't know of any way to falsify the time stamp on an e-mail through a service like Gmail.

Saved drafts timestamped by a remote computer would be stronger evidence than saved drafts timestamped by a local computer, because you can modify the timestamps on local files. I always email my work to myself so I can revert to older versions if I change my mind about something, and to preserve the work in case of computer failure.

I note in your profile that you describe your occupation as attorney. I take it then you are well versed in case law around intellectual property and copyright? And feel qualified to offer legal advice?

I am not an attorney; nor do I play one on TV, but I note that while you describe yourself as an attorney in your profile, and are participating in a copyright thread in which you are providing legal advice as an attorney, do you not offer any disclaimer.

In fact I note that you do not have any disclaimer on any of your posts--are you then offering legal advice?
 
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M.R.J. Le Blanc

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dj, we know it doesn't work because it DOES get rejected in court. Every time. I've read about cases (I can't recall the particulars) of writers who tried to use poor man's copyright in court and they lost. It simply doesn't hold up as evidence. THAT is why industry pros tell writers it's useless. Because it WILL get rejected as evidence. Your suggestion of beta readers, that's probably better. Notes and drafts that can be ink-dated might be able to work too (I'm not a lawyer, btw!). But if writers think they can just mail or email copies to themselves and think that alone will hold up in court in the unlikely event that there's a copyright dispute, they're kidding themselves. It won't hold up.

The very best way to avoid the problem in the first place is prevention. Don't post any of your work online. Don't use display sites. Don't give it to someone you don't know or have reservations about. By that alone, you've reduced the odds of someone stealing your work to virtually zero. And kept your first publishing rights out of dodgy territory.
 

djf881

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You're not really reading the posts in this thread, are you?

You keep bloviating on issues that no one is actually arguing about.

I am trying to explain the concepts in a way people can understand. You said that something has not worked in court since 1920.

I don't know what, specifically, you are talking about, but if the dispute was over authorship, then evidence of authorship would be relevant to the matter at issue.

I should state again that the service provided by the copyrightdeposit website is no better than any other evidence of authorship. What they're doing seems really shady because the language on their site seems to be trying to confuse people into believing that they will register the copyright with the Copyright Office. Clearly, they won't since registration costs $20 more than they charge.


I note in your profile that you describe your occupation as attorney. I take it then you are well versed in case law around intellectual property and copyright? And feel qualified to offer legal advice?

I am not an attorney; nor do I play one on TV, but I note that while you describe yourself as an attorney in your profile, and are participating in a copyright thread in which you are providing legal advice as an attorney, do you not offer any disclaimer.

In fact I note that you do not have any disclaimer on any of your posts--are you then offering legal advice?

I would not offer advice on this area to anyone on this forum because my firm would be more likely to represent a corporate defendant than an unpublished writer plaintiff. I do not specialize in this area of law. Nobody does, except the schmucks who write boogeyman letters for the RIAA.

I am familiar with the copyright area because, in law school, I had an academic interest in public choice theory and, and copyright legislation is an area where legislative capture by narrow interests is easily observed, and the effect of interest pressure in this area is easier to understand than something like defense contracts or farm subsidies.

I am talking about a legal issue in a very general sense. Nobody has requested advice, and I haven't offered advice. I am sharing what I know in general terms, which is not legal advice. I don't have to attach any disclaimers to a general discussion of a hypothetical issue.
 
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