1. Rita M Gardner
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    Rita M Gardner Member

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    When should copyright?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Rita M Gardner, Jul 27, 2016.

    Hello all!

    As I am a first time author, I will have loads of questions for you :). A lot of people indicate that as a self-published author, I should get my book professionally edited, even get a beta reader. It worries me, putting my book out there unprotected. Should I copyright my book before I send it for editing or would that be a waste of money depending on the amount of edits (developmental or line)?
     
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  2. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had the same concern but I would not be concerned about beta readers and definitely not editors, as the latter are, or should be, on contract. I do not post even a segment of my work on-line however, for fear that someone unkown and anonymously may copy a section and slap it into theirs. Some publishers run plagiarism tests and that can cause problems if someone else's work contains a verbatim copy of a section of yours. I send to my beta readers by e-mail, and I require their real name and mailing address, or I know them personally (have about 30). Whether that is realistic or not, it's an element of caution... some things are easier to prevent than to fix.

    As far as copyright, I did mine in Dec. Go to copyright.gov (US) and follow the yellow brick road. Takes about ten minutes, upload your document to them, and fill out the credit card info to pay the $35 charge. Takes about six months to come through. You can continue to edit the work after copyright, without voiding it, but you should feel you have the thing pretty stable before doing so. Don't pay to have someone do this "onerous and difficult" task. They will charge about $150 to do what I just described above.

    My editor thinks it is unnecessary, as the theft of written work has a pretty low return.

    One of the disadvantages is that the vanity presses troll the library of congress where your name and title will be registered. I got several annoying e-mails from Durrance Publishing immediately after it hit the site, offering to publish it for me. The reviews on them were pretty bad and their requests went unanswered. Good hit for my ego, but really, all they could see was my name, contact info, and title. Subject matter not available, text not accessible.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    To be safest, you should pre-register, then register within 3 months of publication or 1 month of learning that someone has infringed the copyright.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your work is copyrighted as soon as you write it. You're talking about registering copyright, I think, and that's something that depends on jurisdiction. The US system seems to have concrete benefits associated with copyright registration, but other places much less so (not because we don't have those benefits, but because we don't need to register to get them).

    In general, I'd say the chances of having your unfinished work stolen are very slim. And having copyright registered is really only valuable if you're taking the perpetrator to court, which is extremely expensive compared to the likelihood of a profitable outcome. If you spend $20K (easily) on legal fees to go after someone who sold 100 copies of your book, is probably in a different jurisdiction, is probably judgement-proof, etc... it's just not financially viable.

    Long story short? I have about twenty novels published--I've got copyright registered on, I think, one, and that one only because the publisher did it for me. I dont think it's worth the trouble.
     
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  5. Rita M Gardner
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    Rita M Gardner Member

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    Thank you all. I've just been nervous ever since I saw that movie about the man who left his briefcase on a train. It was pawned, and a writer purchased it, then sold it as his own. Silly fear, I know, but the possibility is always there and where there's a will, there's a way.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It's always a possibility; generally remote. Whether you want to register the copyright is a separate issue from when to do it. If you decide you want to register, it makes sense to follow the timing I set forth above. If you decide not to register, that's a different story.
     
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  7. Rita M Gardner
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    Rita M Gardner Member

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    What exactly is a "pre-register" in regards to copyrighting? Is there a fee for that as well? What's the purpose?
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Pre-registration isn't cheap. $140 I think. I'm just mentioning it as the safest route, if one is being the most paranoid about infringement. It isn't commonly pursued by self-published authors. It's more commonly pursued by people who have a relatively high expectation that a work will be infringed prior to publication - that's what it is meant to address.
     
  9. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Full registration is only $35.

    Basically what a copyright gives you is presumed damage, if you sue someone for infringement. Informal copyright and ownership can be established by simply sending a copy of the work to yourself via registered mail and keeping the receipt. But if someone steals it and you sue, you have to prove damages.

    Case in point. The Baltimore Ravens logo was drawn by a janitor and posted outside his cubicle. Someone wanted a copy, he gave them one, and they made millions off it.

    He sued, ownership was established, but no damages... he lost money he never had.

    Probably adding to your paranoia, but the likelihood of someone stealing your work intact as their own is pretty remote. Like I said, publishing a segment in the public domain can lead to someone anonymously lifting a part, and raising later questions about plagiarism, which I think is more likely than stealing the whole thing. But even that would likely be edited beyond more than mere coincidence.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think this is quite right - my understanding is that registering in the US gives you access to statutory damages, which are essentially punishments - no need to prove damages.

    And the "poor man's copyright", as I understand it, isn't really respected by US law.

    @Steerpike can give us more definitive answers on these issues...
     
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  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just FYI, the US government copyright site SPECIFICALLY mentions that this strategy ("poor man's copyright") is NOT effective.
     
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  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Registration within the required time period can give you access to statutory damages and possibly attorney's fees. Registration is typically required prior to bringing an action for infringement, even if you didn't meet the time periods required for statutory damages &c.
     
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  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    For a few reasons:

    1) Copyright is already established by operation of law;
    2) Registration requirements still aren't met; and
    3) It's easy to fake, so probably not great evidence in court (though maybe less easy to fake with registered mail, I don't know - haven't tried it).
     
  14. Rita M Gardner
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    Rita M Gardner Member

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    Not fully paranoid, if you will. More like, my future mother-in-law whose business assists individuals and small businesses with filing legal paperwork suggested it. It wasn't a thought until AFTER her suggestion. That's when "paranoia" (more like concern) set in.
     
  15. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    What about copyright in the UK. I have read online that you can register for about £40 and that last for 3 years. If I was to self-publish would I benefit from doing this or not?
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm confused about the 3 years. Copyright usually lasts for decades. Do you have a link?
     
  17. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your work's automatically copyrighted to you in the UK as well, and lasts until 70 years after your death.

    There are places that can add your work to a register which apparently makes the legal stuff easier if there ever was a claim brought, but you don't need to do that to be copyrighted, and to be honest I wouldn't bother. The odds of it ever being necessary seem pretty low. If your book takes off, maybe think about it then.
     
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  18. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    This was one of the first sites I looked at by the way because someone mentioned owning my work before posting it or sending it anywhere? I'm confused on this subject now :confused:

    http://www.copyrightprotectionservice.com/

    It might be a con to newbies. There are so many companies out there I don't know what's true or necassary. This is why I joined this forum...guidence.

    So basically the concensus all round is don't bother?
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  19. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    You do need to own the work you're submitting or publishing, but that's automatic. You own it because you wrote it, you don't need an official stamp. Services like the one that company provides just make it easier to prove you own it if that ever gets challenged. Certainly for a first-time self-publisher, that's a pretty unlikely thing to happen.
     
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  20. PGWhyte
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    PGWhyte Member Supporter

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    I've recently published the first chapter from my Novella - Surviving, on my self-hosted wordpress site. Is this a good idea? Obviously I don't want people to steal what i've written, but as I'm self publishing it for free ( when complete ) I want to generate interest in the book.
    Any info/advice appreciated

    Phil

    Edit: I found a plugin for my website, it forces people to login to view content, is this a good idea too? or too restrictive?

    Sorry for possible hijacking the OP, but I feel this is relevant to topic
     
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  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For all the reasons above, I wouldn't worry about this. For a start, people can just as easily copy the whole thing once it's published. Requiring people to log in doesn't change anything, since you still won't know which of them has stolen it. As Bay pointed out, if it WAS stolen you probably won't be able to pursue it unless you have thousands and thousands of dollars hanging around.
     
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  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Scam.

    Speaking for the U.S., however, you should register your work in a timely fashion if it is important enough to register. Waiting until the book starts to get popular isn't a great idea because by then you may miss out on the advantages of registration.
     
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  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problems with that site are so many that my head isn't up to going through them, given that I just woke up.

    I you decide that registering your copyright is important, you don't need a third party to do it for you, and it lasts effectively forever--not literally forever, but you're not going to have to remember to renew it every three years. Whether it expires would be your children or grandchildren's problem.
     
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  24. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    No need to go to a company to get a copyright. Go to copyright.gov and follow the yellow brick road and do it yourself for $35. Companies will charge you a lot more money to do exactly the same thing, with no additional protection.
     
  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like @Crybaby's in the UK, so that site doesn't really apply? And, of course, she has copyright as soon as she writes something. We're just talking about registration.
     
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