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Getting a copyright

Old 02-10-20, 08:57 AM
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Getting a copyright

I am getting shockingly close to needing one, or at least I hope that it would be needed. I am nearing completion on a work that will need review, editing and possible collaboration if it is to have any value in the 'real' world. I have zero street cred in the arena I wish to enter, so I am aware that I do need help, if only in the form of someone with the credentials willing to attach their name to the work. It seems like it would be wise to establish that I own it in its current form before sending it out to whoever might be able to help me get it to the masses. So...

Has anyone ever had something copyrighted? Do you know the process? Is it simple or difficult? Do you need a lawyer to do it?

I see some online options to get a copyright for under $100. They make it sound quick and easy, but I have no experience to know if this is the way to go, or if I should try it myself or get a lawyer.

https://www.trademarkplus.com/copyri...0a%20copyright

Anyone?
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Old 02-10-20, 09:14 AM
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You don't need to pay money to "get" a copyright. Copyrights attach at the moment of creation, assuming it's a work that is eligible for protection. (E.g., titles are generally not copyrightable.) The old "You need to mail a copy to yourself and not open the envelope" thing is a myth.

You can register your creation. Doing so gives you certain protections (IIRC, one is a presumption of ownership) and, unless the law has changed, entitles you to recover legal fees for a successful infringement action.

That link looks like it's for trademarks, which are, as the name implies,symbols, slogans, etc., used in trade. I believe you can also copyright creative things like that, but from your description it doesn't sound like you need trademark protection.

Copyright registration is achieved through the U.S. Copyright Office:

https://www.copyright.gov/registration/

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Old 02-10-20, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
You don't need to pay money to "get" a copyright. Copyrights attach at the moment of creation, assuming it's a work that is eligible for protection. (E.g., titles are generally not copyrightable.) The old "You need to mail a copy to yourself and not open the envelope" thing is a myth.

You can register your creation. Doing so gives you certain protections (IIRC, one is a presumption of ownership) and, unless the law has changed, entitles you to recover legal fees for a successful infringement action.

That link looks like it's for trademarks, which are, as the name implies,symbols, slogans, etc., used in trade. I believe you can also copyright creative things like that, but from your description it doesn't sound like you need trademark protection.

Copyright registration is achieved through the U.S. Copyright Office:

https://www.copyright.gov/registration/
Thanks, though the process is tedious from a quick look. It looks like it's only a $55 fee, though there are outside services that will file for you for about $100 more.

https://www.legalzoom.com/business/i...n-pricing.html

Also, it takes up to a year to confirm that you are registered! Yet, you seem to imply that copyright rights are established at the moment of creation, and nobody can use my work without my permission. So, can I simply establish a record that would hold up in court through easier means, like getting a notarized dated statement from my lawyer, or is registration with the government the safe way to go? Has anyone been through this process? I may be jumping the gun by thinking I need protection at this point, though I do have confidence in the quality of the content. It's only my ability to market it that is in grave doubt (to me).
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Old 02-10-20, 10:57 AM
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plus a copyright is only useful if you have the money to defend it in court.
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Old 02-10-20, 11:07 AM
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OK, after a bit more research, I discover that the copyright does apply simply by the act of creating it, yet legal some important legal rights are only available after the document is registered with the government office,and ONLY if it is registered within 3 months of publication. So, if you did publish it and then it was misused, you could not recover legal fees and damages unless it was properly registered in time, for example.

So, perhaps I could cheap out and protect myself the easy way as long as I had not published the work, and assume that *IF* it did get published, the publisher would take care of the necessary protections upon publication.
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Old 02-10-20, 11:13 AM
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Let me guess, you are going to publish the SECRET to winning at the race track...
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Old 02-10-20, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by fooferdoggie View Post
plus a copyright is only useful if you have the money to defend it in court.
Hence the availability of attorney fees to the holder of a registered copyright who prevails on an infringement action.
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Old 02-10-20, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
Let me guess, you are going to publish the SECRET to winning at the race track...
Of course not, for the possessor of such a secret could virtually print money on demand. The secret to the racetrack is to limit your losses so you can have fun. You try your best, but don't fall for the illusion that you could or should turn a profit. That would be like saying you could beat the averages in the stock market. If you are not Warren Buffet, I ain't buying it. I buy index funds and play the races for fun.
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Old 02-10-20, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by fooferdoggie View Post
plus a copyright is only useful if you have the money to defend it in court.
This^^, same applies to patents. More than one inventor has, in the past, been crushed because they couldn't afford to defend their work.
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Old 02-10-20, 04:03 PM
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Sounds like you've got it sorted, but I wanted to chime in that my understanding is also that copyright is inherent. You should just be able to put "Copyright 2020, Chew Y. Brian" on what you wrote, and be able to prove that you actually wrote it (for instance possess drafts and earlier versions, talk about it online)

But it sounds like you've already gone into deeper territory of additional legal protections.

Nothing personal, I'm sure what you wrote is awesome, but I would go ahead and assume that nobody wants to steal it. And/or it's not so awesome that it's worth the legal risk to steal. But who knows, maybe you're the next J K Rowling
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Old 02-10-20, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by fooferdoggie View Post
plus a copyright is only useful if you have the money to defend it in court.
This.
Lawfare...

I've had a few copyright graphic design items blatantly ripped off and all I could really do about it was send a rude email to the offender and suggest that they had better not turn up in my home town. I've also had a couple of other designs (more in need of patents, but not worth the cost) that were similarly ripped off in a market that was too small to really fight for. You just have to take it up the Khyber Pass sometimes.

I just hope karma comes calling...
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Old 02-10-20, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Sounds like you've got it sorted, but I wanted to chime in that my understanding is also that copyright is inherent. You should just be able to put "Copyright 2020, Chew Y. Brian" on what you wrote, and be able to prove that you actually wrote it (for instance possess drafts and earlier versions, talk about it online)

But it sounds like you've already gone into deeper territory of additional legal protections.

Nothing personal, I'm sure what you wrote is awesome, but I would go ahead and assume that nobody wants to steal it. And/or it's not so awesome that it's worth the legal risk to steal. But who knows, maybe you're the next J K Rowling
I appreciate all the help, and your take is probably well founded. All I have to go on is my own impression, and a review by a friend and his wife. They are both professors in the field of my chosen subject, which gives me a (probably false) sense of hope. I know that for non-fiction, street cred is very important, and I can't show myself to be an expert, despite many years of self-directed study. So, my thinking is that I will need a collaborator who does have credentials who is willing to add their name to the work, and will likely demand creative input, including the final say on content and tone. So, in the tradition of Abraham, I am asked to slaughter my 'child' in order to save it.

If, heaven forbid, there is some success in the endeavor, then book two could be an easy sell, and I could retain total control. Though, I do not feel I have another book in me--not for years, maybe never. This was a true labor of love that poured out in huge spurts off and on because I care so deeply about the subject. And, it fit neatly in a useful and understandable form, much to my surprise. I linked four related topics somewhat seamlessly despite not being sure when I started whether they would play nicely or not. I love it, and so do two people whose opinion I trust. That's a start, at least.
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Old 02-10-20, 04:52 PM
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I'm intrigued. Can you describe the subject?

I'd offer to read it for you and give feedback, but book-length sounds a bit much and if you've already had it read by a couple professors, you're probably in good shape.

Last year I spent a few months creating an independent academic paper. I threw it over the wall to submit it to one journal that it might be relevant to, but haven't heard back from them in months.

Meanwhile all the work and the paper is up on github (PM me anybody if you want a pdf), and I'm about ready to just give my paper to the nice folks at SET to add to their resources page.
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Old 02-10-20, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I'm intrigued. Can you describe the subject?
It is self-help based on both philosophy and psychology. It sounds quite wide-ranging, but it all goes together reasonably well and forms into a cohesive method for overcoming common problems. The four components follow and build upon each other naturally, such that as you finish one set of techniques or insights, you are ready to level up to understand and apply the next set. It is not an academic paper. My target audience is people without much exposure to either philosophy or psychology, who might appreciate guidance and a simpler style than could be found in the original sources upon which it builds.
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Old 02-10-20, 06:00 PM
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When you said you had "zero street cred" I naturally thought you were referring to your pony picking.

Best of Luck with the book!
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Old 02-10-20, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
OK, after a bit more research, I discover that the copyright does apply simply by the act of creating it, yet legal some important legal rights are only available after the document is registered with the government office,and ONLY if it is registered within 3 months of publication. So, if you did publish it and then it was misused, you could not recover legal fees and damages unless it was properly registered in time, for example.

So, perhaps I could cheap out and protect myself the easy way as long as I had not published the work, and assume that *IF* it did get published, the publisher would take care of the necessary protections upon publication.
Copyright registration makes it easy to get a lawyer to work for you on contingency to go after violators - if it's not registered you'll probably have to pay a lawyer upfront to help you. Also, putting the registered copyright symbol on your work might discourage people from violating your copyright.
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Old 02-10-20, 10:04 PM
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chewybrian,
I Hold copyright on at least two books that come to mind, and yes it does offer some legal protections. But the content of one of my books was used by a company selling digital material. The result of complaints by my lawyers were rebuffed with "because they did not actually use the images of your copyrighted material" when changing it to digital format. So My take on it is that you will have to chase ad nuasium after potential violators. When you take the manuscript to a publisher they will, create a patented form for you for a price and you then will have protection. If you are self publishing you will likely be ripped off and with the same results as myself. The process to get initial copyright is low (under $100) and will get you rights to say c-righted. After that it is an uphill court battle if you are ripped off. I got my advice from a state appellate judge who is a golfing friend. HTH, MH
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Old 02-11-20, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
When you said you had "zero street cred" I naturally thought you were referring to your pony picking.

Best of Luck with the book!
Funny thing is, I have references and experience with the pony picking, such that I could at least get a foot in the door. I have no standing in this other arena.
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Old 02-16-20, 02:42 AM
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Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
This^^, same applies to patents. More than one inventor has, in the past, been crushed because they couldn't afford to defend their work.
Have you ever filed a patent... it has always been my understanding that it is quite expensive. I hold patents, but through companies I have worked for. As an engineer, I typically sign releases and NDAs as a condition of employment.

Companies then own what I invent, give a token bonus (several thousand dollars), and list my name on the patent. They also go through this little legal bit of "buying the patent" for a dollar.

I've never tried to do a patent myself... usually as I am bound by invent and release clauses... always wondered what it would really take to do one myself though.

On the other hand, my wife creates art and writes songs...
​​​​​​
​​​​​​ For the art, we create certificates of authenticity... but the songs, have not yet been published... just sung. So I wonder about this copyright thing for her.
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Old 02-16-20, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Have you ever filed a patent... it has always been my understanding that it is quite expensive. I hold patents, but through companies I have worked for. As an engineer, I typically sign releases and NDAs as a condition of employment.

Companies then own what I invent, give a token bonus (several thousand dollars), and list my name on the patent. They also go through this little legal bit of "buying the patent" for a dollar.

I've never tried to do a patent myself... usually as I am bound by invent and release clauses... always wondered what it would really take to do one myself though.

On the other hand, my wife creates art and writes songs...
​​​​​​
​​​​​​ For the art, we create certificates of authenticity... but the songs, have not yet been published... just sung. So I wonder about this copyright thing for her.
No, I have not. Never came up with any worthy idea. My understanding is like your own, it can cost many thousands of $$ to get through the entire process. Defending it in court, should you need to, could be very costly as well.
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Old 02-16-20, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
Of course not, for the possessor of such a secret could virtually print money on demand. The secret to the racetrack is to limit your losses so you can have fun. You try your best, but don't fall for the illusion that you could or should turn a profit. That would be like saying you could beat the averages in the stock market. If you are not Warren Buffet, I ain't buying it. I buy index funds and play the races for fun.
He's just worried you were going to reveal the dirt on him, at least the stuff that isn't already in the World Weekly News.
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