Poor Man's Copyright does not work
After seeing the Poor Man’s Copyright method repeated time and time again in online forums and even in other HubPage articles as a legitimate form of copyright I had to write an article to dispell this myth. Poor Man’s Copyright has been roundly dismissed for several years, yet it still persists because it is constantly being circulated by those writers who have been told by someone else that it was a good way to copyright your work.
What is Poor Man’s Copyright?
A Poor Man’s Copyright refers to sealing your writing up in an envelope and mailing it to yourself. Thus giving a date when it was first written.
However, this method can be faked. There is nothing stopping a person from mailing an empty envelope to themselves and then sealing it once they get it back.
The US Copyright office says:
“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. “
When you publish something online or in print, it is already copyrighted to you. The only time you need to register for a copyright is if you plan on seeking legal proceedings against those who steal your work.
A DMCA notice will often be enough for your work to be removed from sites that have copied it. Before that, you should try contacting the person who copied the work and ask them to remove it. Most people will comply with such a request. If they refuse and they have Google Adsense you can file the DMCA notice through Google.
Hopefully, the practice of wholesale copying of online content will be lessened due to the new rules that Google is bringing in over sites that scrape content. Hopefully, one day those scrapers will disappear from online writing altogether and slink back to other types of spamming.