Another copyright question

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Leila
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Another copyright question

Post by Leila » January 28th, 2010, 5:17 am

Hi all

Sorry, it's another copyright question. Apologies to those already yawning as they read along.

I'd be very interested to know how many people copyright their work before submitting, v's those who don't.

I understand the issues associated with copyright (from the FAQ's etc) but am interested in actual stats and reasons on either side of the issue.

Nathan, do you have any rough figures in this regard that you might be able to share?

Thanks in advance for all feedback received.

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polymath
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Re: Another copyright question

Post by polymath » January 28th, 2010, 10:46 am

U.S. copyright is automatic. Registration of a copyright is another matter entirely. "Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works." "Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device." However, "in general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section 'Copyright Registration.'"
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#what

Normally, a publisher registers a copyright and makes a mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress. That's what they're buying, the copyrights to a work. Copyright law stipulates that "copies of all works under copyright protection that have been published in the United States are required to be deposited with the Copyright Office within three months of the date of first publication. See Circular 7d, Mandatory Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress, and the Deposit Regulation 202.19."* There is no overt penalty for timely failure to register a copyright or make a mandatory deposit; however, failure to do so limits damages awards in litigations for rights infringements.

* http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-d ... ry_deposit

U.S. Copyright Office FAQ
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq
U.S. Copyright Office Home Page
http://www.copyright.gov
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Leila
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Re: Another copyright question

Post by Leila » January 28th, 2010, 11:22 am

Thanks for the response.

I guess what I meant to ask (but clearly didn't explain properly in my question, sorry about that) is whether or not people have chosen to copyright their work before submitting or not. If so, why? If not, why not? I know some of the responses are obvious, I'm just curious about how people make the decision to copyright or not before submitting work.

For example, if they didn't register beforehand, was it because they were submitting to agents they were comfortable with and didn't feel the need to worry about this issue? Or was it because they thought let's wait and see if this goes anywhere before worrying about copyright? Or maybe they thought it should be the publisher's responsibility etc?

In the same vein, as a person interested in trends, I guess I was just curious to see if it were more common for people to register or not, hence asking Nathan if he had any data available no matter how rough.

I hope this makes more sense now?

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kelly.morgan
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Re: Another copyright question

Post by kelly.morgan » January 28th, 2010, 12:12 pm

I'm not choosing to register a copyright for unagented finished novels. The US laws on copyright covers the majority of my concerns.

http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer- ... /#Register

I agree with the sfwa's information. I'm not in the least concerned about agent theft and barely concerned about beta reader theft (so I choose carefully). It's another small but added expense I don't need.

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polymath
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Re: Another copyright question

Post by polymath » January 28th, 2010, 12:18 pm

Writers registering a copyright in advance of consideration for publication can cause strategic headaches for a writer and publishers, and agents. It's also widely considered an overcautious practice. I've encountered situations where an advance copyright registration scotches an otherwise potential consideration by a publisher. Say a story has ten tickets to the lottery, an advance copyright registration uses up nine of them sight unseen. It's tatamount to saying a writer doesn't trust a publisher to respect a writer's legal rights. That's not a good way to begin a writer-publisher relationship. Call it a prenuptial arrangement of the worst kind.

In spite of all best practices considerations, advance copyright registration is still done by naive writers. And once a work is copyright registered, it's a done deal and cannot in most circumstances be rescinded. Of course, if a story is so good that the headaches are worth the candle, all bets are off. A relatively simple, but a time-consuming and additional-cost process of copyright transfer or, in the alternative, registering a substantively new edition resulting from editorial throughput will resolve most writer/publisher copyright issues. But is the story worth the troubles?

On another hand, if a writer is approaching a questionable or scam publishing house, a copyright registration is a good idea. However, who wants to knowingly enagage with a crooked operation?

My tracking of advance copyright registration indicates that it's comparatively uncommon, but enough naive writers do it that it's not an absolute.

On another hand, accomplished authors can write their own tickets, once there's an overriding benefit for all concerned parties. Like, an author has exhausted preexisting contractual obligations and enjoys a noteworthy following assuring sales.
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Leila
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Re: Another copyright question

Post by Leila » January 28th, 2010, 12:41 pm

Thanks very much to you both for the advice and your thoughts. It helps clarify the situation considerably.


I appreciate your time in responding.

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