1. Banes
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    Banes Member

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    How do I keep agents from stealing my manuscript?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Banes, Aug 19, 2011.

    If I get an agent to like my query and they request the full manuscript and I send it to them. How can I be sure that they do not steal my story and publish it as their own?
     
  2. James Scarborough
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    James Scarborough Member

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    Don't worry about it. In the first place, no literary agents would be interested in stealing your work. They're much more interested in promoting their authors and helping them become successful. Secondly, both US and international copyright law automatically protect all "original works of authorship". There's no legal requirement that you register them with the Copyright Office, place copyright notices on them, etc. So long as you can prove they are your original work, you are automatically protected.
     
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  3. JeffreyW
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    JeffreyW New Member

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    What kind of proof would be required?
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Agents and editors aren't going to steal your work and pass it off as their own. Use reputable people.

    For proof of possession of copyright as of a certain date, you can register it. Alternatively, you could print copies of it and have witnesses who would be willing to testify in court sign and date the pages.

    Some people suggest mailing a copy to yourself, but that really isn't worth much.
     
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  5. DBock
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    DBock Member

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    Just mail yourself a copy in a sealed envelope. That's all you need as proof in court.

    That said, no one is going to be dumb enough to steal your book. Writing something like 'copyright so and so' on your manuscript is only going to be looked upon as naive and possibly insulting to your potential agent.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This is bad advice. It isn't good proof in court as it is easily faked.
     
  7. Banes
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    Banes Member

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    What do I do then?
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Read my previous post in this thread where I answered that question :)
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The best way is to only query/submit to reputable agencies. Research them comprehensively beforehand. No reputable agent would steal your work.
     
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  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Keep all your drafts.

    But as Steerpike said, agents aren't out to steal your writing. Even a complete moron wouldn't guarantee a loss in court by advertising as an agent and then trying to pass of a submitted manuscript as his or her own.

    Forget the "poor man's copyright," mailing yourself a copy by certified mail. Even the US Copyright site makes a pointg os saying this has absolutely NO legal standing.

    You are protected by copyright law as soon as you complete a story draft in a durable medium. So keep all your ald drafts 0 they show the evolution of the story, and are recognized by the courts.
     
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  11. Banes
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    Banes Member

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    What do you mean by durable medium? I have not printed my novel out on paper yet. I have it in an MS word file. Is this good enough?
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. The actual wording of the copyright law in the U.S. says the work must be fixed in a "tangible medium of expression." Having it on disk is sufficient. Doesn't need to printed out.
     
  13. Banes
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    Banes Member

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    Okay. Thank you.
     
  14. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    Just keep drafts backed up on your computer, sign in, print copies out. And most of all, go for somebody reputable.

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. Banes
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    Banes Member

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    I thought they don't need to be printed out? I'm confused. Should it be printed or is a MS word file good enough?
     
  16. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Both are fine.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Writing in in smoke in the sky is not sufficient. A photograph of smoke writing would, however, suffice.

    Copyright law applies to more than simple writing. It covers music, photography, and fine arts as well.

    A durable medium is one that can be presented upon demand to evidence existence of a creative expression.
     
  18. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    In addition to what everyone else said, steer the hell clear of any agent who wants to charge a processing fee upfront. Credible agents make their money from commission slices if you get published, hence they'll have incentive to accept good books that will lead to success for you AND them. Those who charge you fees are scammers.
     
  19. walshy12238
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    walshy12238 Senior Member

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    I'd assume that if you kept your drafts or whatever, that if they stole it you'd have the grounds to sue them seven ways to sunday anyway.
    They're not likely to steal it, at all :)
     
  20. JeffreyW
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    JeffreyW New Member

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    How do you protect yourself when you publish online? Are there different techniques?
     
  21. JeffreyW
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    JeffreyW New Member

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    How do you protect yourself when you publish online? Are there different techniques?
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You do the same things, and if you have a record of what was uploaded to a web site, and when, I'd keep that information as well.

    Publishing online, you're almost asking for something to be used without your permission. That's a lot of what goes on online. And it can be a lot harder to do anything about it. If you send off to an agent or publisher, and they steal it, you are more likely to be able to stop it than if you put it online and some guy making a site in India grabs it.
     
  23. JeffreyW
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    JeffreyW New Member

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    So, does that mean I should only publish items online that I don't mind losing?
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I suppose it is up to you and depends on what your goals are. I think writers should be paid for publishing their work, in one way or another, so if you're just publishing it to put it out there for free then it doesn't strike me that even you, as the author, consider it important enough to be worth compensation, so taking that view I suppose you aren't really damaged if someone takes it.
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But that assumes that money is the only possible reward. It also assumes that non-monetary rewards can have no monetary value. If a writer puts up a website with free writings in order to increase his reputation or to gather an audience or even just to have fun, then succeeding in that pursuit has value, and stealing those writings may reduce that value.

    ChickenFreak
     

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