Monday, 16 March 2015

Do This and Never Have Your Work Stolen Again

So you finally finished that novel, screenplay, short film, etc. you’ve been pouring all of your creative juices into.

Great job!

But now, the panic starts to set in; “What if somebody steals my work and uses it without giving me due credit or paying me for my hard work?”

Fret not, my creative minds! Securing copyright is actually as simple as doing...well...nothing.

Kind of...

3 Ways Secure Copyright Protection For Your Work

1. Create The Work: As I mentioned in my last blog post, once a work is created and fixed in tangible means, it is automatically protected by international copyright law. So basically, you’ve already done what you needed to do to secure copyright for your work.

Not just yet...

So why isn’t this the end of my post? Well, at this point, if someone does copy your work and infringe your copyright, they could claim that they are not at fault by using the ol’ “innocent infringer” excuse. “Innocent infringer” means that the person who copied your work argues that they did not realize your work was actually protected by copyright. Why? Because your work did not contain a COPYRIGHT NOTICE.

2. Include a Copyright Notice: The U.S. Copyright office strongly advises that you include a copyright notice to every work you wish to protect. A copyright notice should look like this:

Copyright © 2015 by Rex T.

  • The word “Copyright” or the symbol © should be included, feel free to use both.
  • The year of publication should also be included.
  • And finally, include your name so people know who owns the copyright.

Yep, you got it Rex.

The notice should be placed on every copy of the work, in a spot where it can be visually perceived.

Doing this will effectively negate any “innocent infringer” claims from the sneaky snakes of the world.

3. Register That Thang!

Listen to Gus, he knows.

In the U.S., before you can sue someone for copying or stealing your work, you have to have registered the copyright for that work with the federal government.

Registering your copyright is fairly simple, all you have to do is:

  • Fill out the required forms (in paper or online).
  • Pay the required fees ($35 - $55 online, $85 in paper).
  • Send two complete copies of your work to the Copyright Office.

Under federal law, you have 90 days to register your work from the moment it is published. If you have not registered your work after 90 days and someone infringes on your copyright, you have the option of registering your copyright at that point in time and still be able to file a suit, however you will not be able to receive compensation for your attorney fees or win statutory damages. Basically, you will not be able to get money out of it.

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I will discuss how copyright works when it comes to freelance work.

For now, leave any questions or comments about what you would like to know in terms of copyright law below, or tweet us @Swagger_Media!

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