1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Minor Legal help with copyright if you don't mind?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dark_Angel, 20 Sep 2009.

  1. Dark_Angel

    Capodecina

    Joined: 12 May 2005

    Posts: 12,637

    Hey :)

    I am writing a book and need a few bits of info. :p

    How does the copyright thing work? I am keeping many different notes, (for example character notes, location notes, time line/history notes, revisions and so on) which I suppose could act as proof.

    I have my name wrote on top of the work and now I am about half way through chapter 15 I figured I should start doing a bit of research. I have done research on how to get published and am not worried about a publisher stealing my work or anything.

    But I am intending to send copies out for people to proof read (maybe even some people in OCUK if there is interest) and need to know how I am covered legally.

    Oh and before people ask it is a fantasy / horror / aventure book. (not sure if that has any relevance or not but still). :p

    Thanks anyone that can give any ideas.

    Oh and in before spreading mustard upon it, nuking it from orbit, or punching people in the ovaries that try to steal it. :p:D
     
  2. mac1st3

    Mobster

    Joined: 14 Jun 2009

    Posts: 4,170

    Location: Southampton

    we were told at uni, take the final copy, seal it in an envelope, post it to yourself.

    that way it's got the date on it, and it'll be sealed incase there are any future disputes about it. or some publishers would do something similar for you I think
     
  3. Delvis

    Caporegime

    Joined: 7 Nov 2004

    Posts: 28,443

    Location: Buckinghamshire

    Last edited: 20 Sep 2009
  4. semi-pro waster

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 27 Sep 2004

    Posts: 25,829

    Location: Glasgow

    It's not all that great a solution though as it doesn't actually prove all that much, you could always post several envelopes to yourself over a variety of dates and with a bit of care put your manuscript in and pretend that it was done on date XX/XX/XXXX.

    A basic point is that ideally you should note that you are the author and that you claim copyright over the work. Remember that you have both economic and moral rights over the work unless you choose to waive them. fini might have something useful to say about copyright.

    Finally I'd be happy to give your book a read if you do decide that you want a few people to look over it. :)
     
  5. Dark_Angel

    Capodecina

    Joined: 12 May 2005

    Posts: 12,637

    That's no problem at all Semi.

    Each chapter needs to be edited / cleaned up. Currently I am writing the book in rough and then working on grammar, removing parts that aren't clear, editing fight scenes and more.

    The book is horror based in some chapters so squimish people might not wanna read it. (It isn't Saw horror, more what is that in the shadows in some sections.)

    I have sent it to several people (friends) currently and they all are impressed with it, including someone who is studying performing arts / film studies so I guess that means it isn't terrible. :D:o
     
  6. fini

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 26 Aug 2004

    Posts: 7,569

    Location: London

    Copyright protection is automatic within the UK, Europe and almost all the world. In America, though a limited amount of protection is automatic, there is significant advantage in registering your work.

    Don't send the work to yourself in an envelope - it's a myth (that I think might have been started by a movie). As stated above, you could easily have sent yourself an empty envelope and then re-sealed it.

    If you are concerned about people stealing the work then you could get them to agree to an NDA before reading it - that would give you some extra protection. Potential publishers wont agree to this though. Remember, copyright protection only covers you for unauthorised use of the text itself - people can 'steal' the plot/concept without necessarily being an unauthorised reproduction.

    People claiming that they came up with the concept first is basically a factual issue (which needs to be proved to the civil standard (i.e. more likely than not)). Due to that, you don't need to worry too much because you could just adduce the correspondence with the defendant showing that you had sent them your book 6 months before they published the same - pretty compelling evidence. I have known people to pass a copy to a reliable person to keep safe as another level of protection. Potentially a solicitor may be willing to officially take receipt of a copy of it. To be honest, it's not a problem that comes up often - people don 't usually have the bare-faced-cheek to just steal someone's work and get it published before them. If they do, usually it's pretty easy to prove that is what they've done.

    Should you register the copyright in America? Well, if you're going to get it published then your publisher will probably have a policy on this and can advice on this.

    If you're super paranoid you could change a word or two in the copies you send out to each person and get them to sign an NDA (I'm sure there are a load of free ones online you could make use of - otherwise my services are available at a very reasonable prrice :D ). That way you'll be able to work out exactly who let the copy out and be able to claim pretty much unlimited damages from them if you word the NDA right :D .

    You could always seek dvdbunny's help on this :D

    Because I haven't used this for a while: Now standard disclaimer: Nothing in this post is intended nor given as legal advice. No warranty nor indemnity is given as to the accuracy, suitability or any other facet of this post. By reading this post you agree that I shall not be liable for any and all direct and indirect losses including but not limited to damages and loss of profits as a result of this post. This post is given purely for novelty value and I in no way recommend that anything in it is taken as any sort of advice or acted upon as if it were. In any legal matter I suggest that you seek adequate legal advice.
     
  7. mac1st3

    Mobster

    Joined: 14 Jun 2009

    Posts: 4,170

    Location: Southampton

    well there we go :p
     
  8. gumbald

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 26 Aug 2006

    Posts: 9,728

    Location: 62.156684,-49.781113

    :D
     
  9. semi-pro waster

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 27 Sep 2004

    Posts: 25,829

    Location: Glasgow

    Fairly comprehensive exposition of the points from fini there. :D I did wonder about an NDA but wasn't quite sure enough of my ground about them to suggest it.
     
  10. leaskovski

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 22 Oct 2004

    Posts: 9,086

    Location: Berkland

    What exactly do you do for a job fini? You seem pretty clued up on this. :D
     
  11. Paddyw01

    Gangster

    Joined: 18 May 2009

    Posts: 331


    I was told to seal the final copy in an envelope, and send it registered to yourself, at uni by this film director, so there is some truth to it.

    Naturally, you'd want to do more than just this (as it doesn't seem THAT full proof, does it?), such as giving a copy to a solicitor for them to keep (usually for a small fee), or just chatting to a solicitor about how to get it properly registered as an original piece of work.
    I'd suggest doing a combination of things such as all of the above. :)



    Yeah I was wondering the same thing. What do you do fini? :)

    Everyday I learn something new on this forum lol.
     
  12. philjohn

    Mobster

    Joined: 3 Apr 2008

    Posts: 2,945

    Don't bother sending it to a publisher, they will bin it straight away to avoid any possibility of them being accused of copying your work.

    You need a literary agent to handle getting a publisher.
     
  13. fini

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 26 Aug 2004

    Posts: 7,569

    Location: London

    No, there really isn't any truth in it. The fact that you were told it by a film director just goes as evidence towards my theory that the myth was started in a movie.

    Think about what you're trying to achieve with the self-postage. You're trying to claim that the contents of a sealed envelope are proof that you wrote something before someone else. As with any evidence, you'd need to prove its authenticity. Think how easy it would be to fake such a document - extremely easy. When you write a book, script etc you have tons of notes and usually speak to people about it as you're going along. You might send it out to multiple people at the same time. Consider how compelling the evidence of hundreds of pages of notes and witnesses stating they received a copy from you on a set date is in comparison to an envelope with a post-mark. I'd always prefer the former to the latter.

    The fact of the matter is also that the amount of claims for verbatim stealing of a substantial amount of copyright (such as is imagined here) are few and far between. People just don't tend to steal whole books, plays or films. They might steal story lines, but there usually isn't much you can do about that. Indeed, Dan Brown was sued because it was claimed that a lot of the Da Vinci Code's plot was lifted from another book. They lost - mainly because a plot isn't really something that can be protected by copyright.

    The ONLY UK case that I can find (having checked LexisLibrary and Westlaw) where someone's ever even bothered to try to advance it as evidence is Celador Productions Limited v Melville and another and Conjoined Cases [2004] EWHC 2362 (Ch), (Transcript). In the case, the defence just claimed that the letter and envelope 'were a concoction'. It was noted that, as the claimant was advancing the evidence it was for him to prove it and even a trained document examiner came back saying it was inconclusive whether it was ever actually posted. So trying to use so called 'poor man's copyright' ended up costing more money as they had to get in a Document Examiner as an expert witness to try to bolster the claim.

    I'm an intellectual property/contracts consultant, which mainly involves negotiating intellectual property licensing contracts, research/collaboration contracts (including the initial NDAs) and advising on IP strategy. I'm also doing the BVC (barrister training) part-time.
     
    Last edited: 21 Sep 2009
  14. feriso

    Mobster

    Joined: 30 Dec 2004

    Posts: 2,872

    Location: Stoke-on-Trent

    I thought that you could get an envelope (with the aforementioned work) sealed and stamped at a bank as proof.