So, it has come to my attention that copyrighting things may be a pretty good idea. I was wondering how you guys are doing it.
I understand that one can register with the actual copyright office for a small fee (naturally), but that seems a little extreme.
I just want to protect myself and my work. I know that the published date is there and all that, but I've also noticed that some Hubbers have the little 'c' in a circle.
Any advice welcomed and appreciated!!
Your copyright is automatic as soon as you publish original content. Registering it is only a matter if you think you may want to go to court over a violation someday. Publishing online means you have to be vigilant in fighting the thieves by notifying them of your copyright concerns and requesting that they remove your content if you did not permit it.
Holy guacamole, you guys. What is all the fighting about?!?
Your work is copyrighted the moment you put it down on paper or the internet. Paying the copyright fees gives you some additional recourse for collecting damages in court, but ask yourself if you really think anyone stealing your work is going to result in such volumes of wealth for that person that pursing them in court for every last penny you can get is worth dropping $35 bucks into every hub you write.
And, before someone comes swooping in here with the name of some website or another to which you can send your work and they will "secure it" for you, for free or for a fee, let me warn you off of these as well. First off, they can do no such thing. This is because of what I said in the first paragraph: your work is already copyrighted. Period.
Mailing yourself a copy and not opening the letter, sending your work to some site who will "protect it" with what is basically an Internet version of mailing a copy to yourself is all nonsense. Very authoritative sounding people will come propound the advantages of doing so, and extol the great history of company XYZ, but, I repeat, it's nonsense. In fact, the last big company to offer that "service" ended up selling the stuff people sent them to some Chinese outfit who assembled the work into ebooks and put them up on Amazon.
So, there you have it. Write your stuff. It's already copyrighted. If you have more questions, go to the U.S. copyright office webpage and read the FAQs. They are VERY approachable, and written in a way anyone can understand them (shocking for a government agency, I know).
Thanks much, shadesbreath and livewithrichard. I appreciate very much the rapid responses and direction! It's tough being a new guy
I thought I should post this here, to inform Hubbers about the Creative Commons License. This is like a copyright, and it is free... However, the purpose of your writing must not be for monetary gain. Since HP gets you paid for your writing, you may not be able to use this to protect your creative work. Just thought I should make others aware, as this is commonly used for internet publishing of writing and artwork, but may not apply to HP:
http://wiki.creativecommons.org/FAQ#Doe … icenses.3F
Thank you very much for weighing in, kathleenkat.
There is always something to think about, for sure.
Agree with Richard and Shades. In addition, place the copyright symbol and date on whatever you do - Copyright 2012 Your Real Name. However, one additional step you might try is a trick I was taught when I first got started, at least with printed matter. Print whatever you have, date it, and then send it to yourself, or someone you trust, via certified mail. Also sign across the flap, or place a stamp of some kind so it is clear it was not broken. When it comes back through the mail, just simply file it. The unbroken package, confirmed by the official US Postal mark will confirm your "self-publishing" date. It's an added proof in case your work shows up someplace else at some point!
I like it, texasgator. I wonder, though, can I use the copyright symbol if I haven't paid to use it like some of the sites I've seen? Just curious.
You can use the dollar sign $$$ right so you can use the © symbol too. Using the ™ for unregistered trademarks and ® for registered trademarks.
Well, you're not paying for the symbol. You're paying for the registration services of the Copyright office in Washington! So yes, you can use it.
You don't have to use the copyright symbol. Your work is copyrighted when you put it down, and you don't actually even need the mark (I'll link that below as well). It doesn't hurt to use it, and there is no reason NOT to use it, as it looks professional and conveys to would-be thieves that you are serious about that sort of thing.
You will get lots of well-meaning but totally confusing, over-complicating and just plain incorrect information if you allow yourself to be informed by people hanging around internet forums.
Below is the direct link to the easy, simple answers. Anything else other than what's there is misinformation that has been promulgated for years by people who didn't know but thought something "made sense" and "sounded true." The mailing stuff to yourself (or someone else) as a perfect example: you will see on the U.S. copyright page linked below a reference to "poor man's copyright" which will dispel that wive's tale for you.
Copyright basics: http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#what
"Do I need the notice?" : http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-d … tml#notice
Go to the first link and it's all nice and laid out for the basics. You can also get to the main home page which has even deeper information in nice format by clicking on the top left corner where it says Copyright in big letters.
I have been writing for almost 35 years and have used the so-called "poor man's copyright." I regret that shades has decided to resort to name-calling. And I highly resent the implication that I am in some way ignorant.
Far from being a "wive's tale" (which is an insult to wives, by the way) the reference to which he refers states, "The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a 'poor man’s copyright.' There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration." I agree entirely. There is no substitute for registration. And of course, there is no provision for it in copyright law. Why would an author ever pay for registration if the law itself stated there was a way around it? However, the statement says nothing about a court action or what would stand up in court. It merely says that "poor man's copyright" is not an official copyright. On the other hand, the courts rely on evidence. If I have a sealed document in my possession, certified and dated by the USPS, I can reliably establish a date. If I don't have it, I merely have my own word that I had published it at a certain time. I'd rather have this little extra piece of evidence if I don't have official copyright registration. And sorry Uninvited, postal registration is postal registration. It cannot be faked.
Dude. You tip your cards here with this defensive thing. I didn't call you, or anyone else, names, so I'm not even sure what you are talking about with that. I simply did not want the OP to waste her time worrying or pursuing "copyright strategies" that are meaningless. It's all actually pretty simple.
Fear and ignorance are how the snake-oil salesmen lurking at the bottom of the publishing industry make their living, and it is very easy to bamboozle aspiring writers who are still at the stage where they consider their writing "their babies" and that sort of thing.
Well, I don't know about "defensive." Haven't a clue what you mean by "tipping my cards." ???? But I'm right here reading all this. You talk about someone promulgating misinformation and my advice being an old wive's tale as if I wasn't even here. Sorry for using the phrase name-calling. However, I would argue that calling my advice an ignorant wive's tale is equally offensive.
I offered her advice based on my experience - there was no fear or ignorance involved. I didn't "bamboozle" anyone. My suggestion would mean absolutely no income to me, and the cost of postage to her. Tell me where the "bamboozling" is. And now if YOUR welcome is typical of this place, I'll be stepping away with my 35 years experience.
Peachpower, sorry your post got hijacked. I have no intention of "bamboozling" an aspiring writer. I wish you luck, and hope my advice is useful. I totally agree that the use of "poor man's copyright" is NOT a substitute for genuine copyright registration with the copyright office. I never said that it was, and I apologize if you took it that way. However, shades' contention that It is a "meaningless copyright strategy" is incorrect, and COULD be useful if any of your works were ever stolen.
His welcome is not typical of this place so think again before stepping away. You should know that this place is often bombarded by people giving bad advice... not that yours was bad. Being a newcomer and not having a portfolio established here to garner trust and substantiate claims is seen by the veterans here as trolling. I know that is not what you are doing or that it was your intent. Shades did come across as a bit aggressive. Your method is and was a good alternate method for print but it is of little help in online writing. You see, the date that it is published online will always supersede a physical mailing. Online writing is electronically stamped with a time and date of publication so there is no need to officially copyright anything published online.
As for the OP, I am quite sure she is clear now on how little importance it is to place a copyright symbol or to register a copyright for online content. Placing a notice at the bottom of a hub may detract some would be thieves but they're thieves none the less so nothing online is truly protected until you find the violation.
Thank you Richard for that clarification. Indeed I was speaking primarily of anything in print and not necessarily anything in an online post. I should have clarified that, and I didn't assume that Peachpower was speaking about online content only. I understand that online time-stamping is an "automatic."
And yes, I joined yesterday. One of the first pieces of advice the website gives is to become a participant in the forums. And the first thing I saw was Peachpower's question about copyright. As I happen to have a bit of experience in this area as a long-time writer, video producer, and communications director, I thought I would chime in. Little did I know that someone would immediately dismiss my contribution as an ignorant wive's tale. But I appreciate the follow up.
Welcome to the site and yes the forums can be quite helpful. I recommend visiting the learning center to get an idea of how to publish a hub... read some of the successful hubs, not for topic ideas, but to visualize the layout. Then jump right in and share your experiences with a hub of your own. Sounds as if your experiences can make some pretty good topics here. Once you publish, you can post a link to your hub in the "Improving your Hub" section and get advice from other hubbers on how it can be improved for your best benefit. Comment on other hubs, ask questions in the Q and A section, and it will make your experience here one that you will enjoy.
Your entire previous response, and this one are practically spasms of defensiveness. Where did I ever call you ignorant? That is totally in your head.
I said in the post I made before you showed up that the poor man's copyright was nonsense. You ignored that and posted it anyway as "a trick you were taught when you first got started." It was inaccurate advice, but rather than attack you (which you seem to think I did) I simply repeated what I said before you got here (and which you didn't bother to address) about that being misinformation. In fact, I toned down the language of "nonsense" since you were here at that point, and instead tried to make the statement diplomatically, allowing that for many, the idea of the poor man's copyright "made sense" and "seemed to be true" so the belief in it continues to live on despite not having the value people hope it does. That is not an attack. If it was not gentle enough for your personal degree of sensitivity, I apologize. But I do think you are working too hard to find offense. I mean, come on, you actually said the term "wive's tale" is "an offense to wives?" Please. Lighten up a little. We can all be friends here.
Think about it, if you came on and started telling people frogs give you warts, and I suggested that was a wive's tale, would you be this incensed as well?
I never said you bamboozled anyone. I said misinformation is how people get bamboozled. If people go around believing that there are these "other" solutions to copyright, then when the snake oil companies—like the one I mentioned in my first post (again, the one you chose to completely ignore before joining the conversation)—come along, they can play on that misinformation and talk people out of their work or their money. That was not an attack on you. And once again you are working very hard to be offended.
When you post your hub, it is dated. I will not bother to explain the rest to you because you are angry at me right now and feel assaulted, despite that never being my intent, and therefore it seems unlikely you are open to anything I might suggest. You are certainly free to believe in the poor man's copyright if you like. There is nothing I could do to stop you even if I were so inclined.
My comments were never about YOU; they were about the OP's question and the facts. That was all. I am sorry you mistook my intentions of accuracy as a personal offense. That was not my point at all. Furthermore, my discussion of the facts around copyright were not meant as a welcome to you either. I had no idea you were in need of welcoming, as you did not enter the conversation by saying, "Hey, I'm new here. Hi y'all." I am not in the habit of reading the little details of everyone's avatar in the left-hand margin every time I respond to anything, which perhaps is a bad habit of mine. However, I doubt I would have chosen that particular moment to say, "Hi, welcome to HP," because, well, the rest you already know.
I hope you will not hold it against Hubpages or the community or even me that I chose to clarify what I thought was an important point, as I've seen people not only waste money, but have work stolen and sold on Amazon for having believed in things that weren't as accurate as they had hoped.
Sorry, but I didn't see any prior mention of the "poor man's copyright" in any post of yours before I made my original post. But I have no intention of arguing with you anymore. I gave advice to another writer about one method (virtually no cost) that could add an additional layer of evidence that the work is the author's. Whether you named me or not, you called that advice nonsense. Sorry if I sound defensive. I usually get that way when someone immediately dismisses my input as nonsense. Good luck to you.
If you're publishing on a site like HubPages, then the site can verify the date you published.
Shadesbreath already said that did not work and it will not hold up in a court of law, it can easily be faked
There is also a copyright notice already on every hub here.
Look along the bottom of this and every other HP screen.
"Copyright © 2012 HubPages Inc. and respective owners. All rights reserved."
Of course, people ignore it, but at their peril.
You find someone has copied your work, simply issue a DMCA notice to Google if they refuse to take it down, and let Google deindex them.
The poor man's copyright is a myth in that the only time it has been raised in court, it has failed. It is too easily fake. It has never been used successfully in a legal action over copyright in the US.
Where is the "improving your hub" section in the learning center?
The primary reason the poor man's copyright doesn't hold up in court is because it is pretty easy to fake. I can mail empty envelopes to myself today and stuff them with whatever I want 5 years from now. The post-mark gives a processing date, but has nothing to do with the seal of the envelope.
Part of the perpetuating nature of this infernal myth is that, if explained in its most convincing form, you are told that you are supposed to put a seal on it, like a wax stamp or even just lick the envelope. Then, you never open it until your day in court arrives, at which time, you swoop up to the judge's bench and triumphantly place your unopened envelope on his desk, sort of like they do at the end of that Christmas movie A Miracle on 34th Street.
However, as you said, easily faked. There are ways to steam open an envelope, or you can just mail the thing unsealed (think of those little metal tines on a big yellow folder as a way to hold down a flap without licking, etc.) and, when the time comes, you can drop any manuscript you like into your nicely postmarked envelope, and, voila, "copyright protection." Except not.
Courts realize all of this, which is why that continues to not be a valid means of protecting your work. It comes down to you standing there promising the court that you really did put it in there when you sent it not just yesterday.
You guys are of course right, I am an idiot for thinking this $5 investment is a waste on an important work, and I'm sure you can cite dozens of cases where so-called "poor man's copyright" was summarily dismissed as evidence in a copyright infringement case.
Thanks for your time, and my apologies for leading a new writer astray.
No one at any time ever said you are an idiot. Ever. It's frustrating to me that you perceive information that is contrary to what you understand as total hostility and personal affront.
Dude, there is no shame in having got something a little bit wrong. Big deal. Yes, I can cite court cases, so what. That doesn't make you an idiot. I get sh!t wrong all the time. We all do. There is a reason the poor man's copyright thing exists, persists, and even has it's own specific mention on the U.S. copyright office webpage. You are hardly alone in that. I believed it for a time when I was getting started to, just as you did.
Look, you are new to HP. I hope you can, with all your years of writing experience, recognize this whole thing as evidence that there is a great community of seasoned writers to interact with here. You can learn and teach at the same time. Have your beliefs challenged, challenge our beliefs, etc. (Yes, there are trolls, but, whatever, it is the Internet, lol.)
Write some hubs, hang out, enjoy what you can get out of this place.
texasgator left HubPages?!
What the hell.
There is actually a pretty handy guide here: http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyr … ight_myths
It's from the UK copyright service, but everything in it applies to US copyrights as well.
We are clarifying that self-mailing is in no way a substitute for registration of copyright--a potentially very important piece of information for writers especially in the US where no other form of evidence can be used to pursue monetary damages over copyright violation. If some one chooses to leave over that, that is their choice.
No, what you guys did was make a bid deal out of a tiny tidbit of old information that nobody ever uses anyway. I mean really, do you know of a single person that has gone to court over a copyright violation for something they wrote online... I seriously doubt it since it would never be in anyone's financial interest to do so, at least not here on HP.
This tiny little tidbit of information can cost professional writers (like myself: novels and textbooks) *huge* amounts of money. Money I need to pay my bills. It is not trivial and it is important people have any accurate understanding of the law as it relates to monetizing their work. If someone gets very upset at having their factual error corrected, this is not my responsibility. There is nothing shameful about passing on a factual error. We all do it from time to time, and we should all expect to be corrected.
Anyone who thinks the term wive's tale is offensive to wives was destined to be unhappy on a public form. He insisted he had been called names when he never had, he didn't read what was written before him, and, seemed to me to be working as had as he possibly could to find some way to be offended.
And it's not true that nobody uses that information. That "copyright alternative" site I mentioned was a big popular deal HERE at HP for a long time and lots of self-proclaimed writing experts writing on HERE were telling people to submit their work to it for at least a year if not more, and that company got pretty big. Then they sold all their stuff to the Chinese and the whole thing fell apart. Not sure what went down in court, but a whole bunch of hubbers stuff was in the database. And it never would have been had someone vociferously and adamantly continued to make sure that bad information was dispelled when it first started being bandied about. It was the inclination to not cause a stir, to not insist on the facts, diplomatically of course, that allowed that to happen.
I never wanted to run that guy off, but, I mean, what are you going to do if a guy can't handle it if someone says, "Dude, that's a wive's tale, here's how it really works." If that is a righteous insult, then, well, probably best to move along anyway. Pissing someone that thin-skinned off is inevitable.
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