Author Topic: Copyright Information  (Read 2543 times)

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Offline turncopper

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Copyright Information
« on: Sun, Nov 27, 2005, 12:41 PM »
I have been asked several times of late about Copyright.  It was suggested that I post information on the subject, since I’ve researched it thoroughly for myself.  I debated writing a detailed research paper on it for everyone here at VX.  But then I thought that might be too complicated and boring.  If you only wanted to know about one subject, you’d have to read through to find it.  So, I developed a link system of the best websites I could find on information about copyright, and stated what each link is good for.  Most of this information is for people in the USA, since that’s all I know about, being a citizen of the US.  However, since this is primarily for people posting work on the internet, everyone can find some useful information in certain links.  There is some great stuff on Fan Fiction and the need for Disclaimers.  So, I hope this helps you all out.


This link explains ‘poor man’s copyright’ very well.  If you don’t have the money right now to register with the US Gov, then you can use the ‘poor man’s method’.

http://www.whatiscopyright.org/

This is the link for the US Gov copyright.  Here they will explain the process, you can print out the proper form, and the fees are explained.  In order to sue for monetary damages, should someone steal your work, you will need Copyright registry with the US Gov.

http://www.copyright.gov/register/literary.html

If you don’t understand how to make the copyright symbol © on your computer, this link will give instructions on the procedure.  On newer Microsoft word programs, often this simple method will work as well:  parenthesis, C, and a closing parenthesis.  For example:  ( C )   Only, place no space between them.  If this doesn’t work for you, the link has other methods.

http://www.copyrightauthority.com/copyright-symbol/


This link is excellent for dispelling myths about Copyright protection.  You might find particularly useful the section on Fan Fiction.  If you have concerns, I suggest you read it so you know what legality is involved with the posting of Fan Fiction.  This also demonstrates why a disclaimer is very necessary when posting your story on the internet.  

http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

I’m also going to link the two divisions of the Writer’s Guild of America.  This is for those of you interested in the road of selling your original works, especially those who write scripts.  If you don’t know what the Writer’s Guild of America is, here is a link to explain:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writers_Guild_of_America

This is the link for the Writer’s Guild of America, West.  

http://www.wga.org/

This is the link for the Writer’s Guild of America, East.

http://www.wgaeast.org/


Oh, and the proper way to state Copyright is:

Copyright © the year it was created, the name of the author

For Example:   Copyright © 2005 Mel Skinner

If it was created over a period of more than one year, it should read like:

Copyright © 2004-2005 Mel Skinner

Yopu don't have to use your real name.  A pen name, or even a  screen name is often used by those who don't want their real name posted all over the internet.  
For Example:  Copyright © 2005 turncopper

If you can think of anything I left out, I’ll do my best to help you.

Mel
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« Last Edit: Sun, Nov 27, 2005, 01:04 PM by turncopper »

Offline Issysmum

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« Reply #1 on: Sun, Nov 27, 2005, 12:53 PM »
Thanks Mel - Just off to read the links to make sure my fanfic disclaimers are detailed enough.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Issysmum »
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Offline Rachel

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« Reply #2 on: Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 02:27 AM »
ok, Mel, I'm still a little confused - do I have to copywrite my stuff? Or is it more for professional writer's such as your self?

also, do I need to check out UK links or would the info be pretty much the same?

Rachel

 :think
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Rachel »

Offline turncopper

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Questions Answered
« Reply #3 on: Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 08:52 AM »
Quote
ok, Mel, I'm still a little confused - do I have to copywrite my stuff? Or is it more for professional writer's such as your self?


Copyrighting is for anyone who doesn't want their work stolen.  If someone can read it, someone can steal it.  I suggest copyrighting any work you post on the internet, including Fan Fiction.  This is done to help deter plagiarizers from stealing your work.  Granted, some people will try to steal from you anyway.  But with the copyright, you can assure them they are in fact stealing.  On a website, if you find that someone is plagiarizing your work, contact the mod(s) of that site and allow them to deal with it.  This is the professional way to handle it.

Also, if the plagiarizer of your work attempts at some point to alter the work slightly, making it seem original to them, even though they are stealing your plot or characters, rest assured this is still plagiarizing.  So maybe they sell this altered work, if you have copyrighted, then you will have proof that it was your idea.  In the United States, if you want to sue someone that has stolen your work for monetary damages, a Copyright with the Government is necessary.  However, the poor man's copyright method will allow you to set the date of creation for the court, without paying the fee with the Gov. But you will need to have filed for Copyright with the Gov at some point.

A Hypothetical situation:  Someone steals the plot and characters in one of your fan fictions, but alters it to make it seem original (including making the characters the fan fiction is based on into OMC/OFC characters).  Then they publish it as a novel and/or make it into a script.  They manage to sell the book and/or script, and profit from it.  One day you go to the theater and see your story on film...surprise, surprise.  Of course, you are pissed beyond measure that all your work on that story allowed a thief to make a profit.  So, you want to sue to get adequate compensation from the plagiarizer, who is currently living on easy street and enjoying the benefits of your hard work.  In this case, prior and proper Copyright will be necessary to sue them.

You don't have to copyright your stuff, if you don't mind the risk of someone stealing your work.  It is after all your risk to take.

Quote
also, do I need to check out UK links or would the info be pretty much the same?



Each Country has different laws on Copyright.  I'm only familiar with the USA laws because I'm a citizen here.  I do know that a copyright in the US doesn’t necessarily mean you are covered under international copyright.  The copyright you own in your country will be subject to the copyright laws of another country.  There are some general ‘treaty’ conditions and standards in certain countries for copyright, but like I said, it depends on the country.  You’ll have to check out the laws of your country to be certain.

I went ahead and did a little research for you, Rachel, and found a link for UK copyright information.  I’ll include it here.  You can read and find out what the laws of your country entail and if you feel it necessary to copyright.

http://www.patent.gov.uk/copy/

I hope I was of some help.  :)

Oh, and Fi...you're welcome.

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline Rachel

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« Reply #4 on: Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 09:39 AM »
Thanks a lot for that Mel, that was a big help.

I never even considered copywriting FanFics...

...am looking into UK copywriting laws right now.

 :rule
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Rachel »

Offline Issysmum

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« Reply #5 on: Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 10:14 AM »
I had someone obviously rip off some of my work on a fanfic I wrote and when I pointed it out to her she said "oh, I thought it sounded familiar!".  Grrr - I'll give her familiar - she copied sections of the damn thing word for word.  I was able to prove she'd copied my work as I burn all my completed fics to disk before I publish them so I could prove when the last time I'd edited that file was, the daft cow had also reviewed the chapters of my work that she ripped off!!

So yes - copyright is a huge deal to me as if theft.  I spend a hell of a long time getting my OFC/OMCs just right and I don't appreciate people coming in and ripping them off.  It's a sign of a lazy writer and I don't care if you're 17 or 47 - theft is still theft and it's still wrong.

Sorry - rant over now!
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Issysmum »
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Offline turncopper

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« Reply #6 on: Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 10:32 AM »
I know what you mean, Fi.  I have had several cases of plagiarizers trying to steal my work, and they were always taken down.  I really, really hate plagiarizers.  If one of them is ever stupid enough to try and profit from my work, rest assured my lawyers will have them for lunch.  I copyright my work, and I hate thieves.  You’re right…it doesn’t matter how old they are, it’s stealing and it’s wrong.  Like you, I put a lot of work into my writing…but it’s what I do for a living.  So if someone plagiarizes off of me, they take away some of my living.  Everything I write is product of my mind.  When you plagiarize from me, it’s personal.  

Ok, I’ll stop my ranting too. LOL  Anyhow, I know exactly how you feel, Fi.  

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline Issysmum

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« Reply #7 on: Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 10:51 AM »
When I pointed this out to the girl I was told by her group of teenage 'oh my god, it's fab' squealy brat fans that it wasn't important as she'd only stolen a few words and plot points not an entire storyline.

I was so angry - I believe the phrase is 'incadescent with rage' - it doesn't matter if she's just stolen a sentance or an entire story plot the simple fact is that work was my idea, my words and blood,sweat and tears to get it written.

How dare she come along and think she can steal what I've worked so hard to produce.

I'm still not sure what I angered me the most - the fact she stole from me in the 1st place or the reaction of other readers/writers when I pointed out that what she'd done was theft and plagiarism.

It's very difficult to stop this when so many people don't see anything wrong with what they're doing.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Issysmum »
Ms Fi
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Accept me for who I am or piss off - I'm a freak, get used to it.

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Offline turncopper

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« Reply #8 on: Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 11:34 AM »
That's very true, Fi.  And that is why I like it here at VX so much.  I don't post my stories anywhere else now.  I feel safe on VX, and the mods/administrators are very good with handling plagiarizers. Had it not been for VX, I would have stopped posting my work on the internet.  I've been advised against it for publication reasons, but I haven't stopped posting stories because of the great fans I have.  I don't want to disappoint them by making them wait for the terribly long process of publication, with none of my work available to read.  Also, the two stories I post on VX are in honor of Tasha and Onyx.  Too, I learn from the feedback I receive here and improve my writing.

Of course, people can read your work on VX and try to post it on another board as theirs.  But if the mods of that site won't do anything, there is always court action.  I don't let anything slide.  I take it all very seriously.  So if the mods of another site won't do anything about the plagiarizer, then I will take it to court.  I can be a real nasty B*tch to those who steal from me.  I don't just drop it, should they refuse to take it down and apologize.

I agree with you, in that I think people need to understand what's wrong with plagiarizing.  People need to understand that even stealing a few sentences, or the plot, or the characters…whatever, is wrong and still considered plagiarizing.  They can be sued for it.  People need to understand how hurtful it is to a writer. Also, readers and/or fans shouldn't just stand by and allow it to happen, because this leads to the propagation of more thieving.  Plagiarizing is not ok.  If you see it happening, report it...speak up.

Anyhow...another long opinion from me. lol  So, I agree with you, Fi.

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline Purple Frogger

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« Reply #9 on: Wed, Nov 30, 2005, 12:50 AM »
Thank you so much for all this work Mel ~ it will come in handy as I get further along in my 'book' (Mindy's Mishaps)
As I've been writing it, I have already been putting copyright(C), the date, my name and also the chapter title for good measure ~ figured I would get to the rest of it when I am closer to a print date.

Your links have saved me a lot of time
 :bow
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Purple Frogger »
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Offline turncopper

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« Reply #10 on: Wed, Nov 30, 2005, 01:19 AM »
You're welcome, Mindy.  I'm glad I was of some help.  By the way, the title of your book is very cute. :)

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline x-fuse

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« Reply #11 on: Sun, Jan 08, 2006, 11:29 AM »
It seems like every year or so I have this discussion.

You can't copyright fanfiction since you don't have any legal right to the material in the first place. It belongs to whoever owns the rights to it (movie, game, comic book company or author). Heck, if anyone want to test the theory write a fic based on Anne Rice character and let see how fast she will sue you and the site. She has done it before and has stated that she will do it again if anyone tries.

Quote
      6) "If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me."

False. U.S. Copyright law is quite explicit that the making of what are called "derivative works" -- works based or derived from another copyrighted work -- is the exclusive province of the owner of the original work. This is true even though the making of these new works is a highly creative process. If you write a story using settings or characters from somebody else's work, you need that author's permission.



http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

Unless we write an original we own nothing and can't copyright it.

So legally, we don't own fan fics. There is a general etiquette that usually prevents stealing someone else's fic but that is all it is.

Ezboard rules state that you can't copy someone else's post and post it as your own or post it without their permission. If someone does this, you can contact them and they will remove the post and maybe even delete the membership after you prove you made the post first. Other boards and sites might do the same but most do not have it in their rules.

For the most part, people don't steal other people's fics but legally we don't have a leg to stand on if they do.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by x-fuse »

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Offline turncopper

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« Reply #12 on: Sun, Jan 08, 2006, 11:48 AM »
That's true, X-fuse. Perhaps I should have been clearer. What you copyright is your original idea, original plot, original characters, etc. Whatever is original in the work. You obviously can't copyright someone else'a character or 'created world' and call it yours. That's not what I meant.  I also stressed the importance of disclaimers for this reason.  You have to specify what is yours and what is not. The copyright protects what is yours, and with the disclaimer you state what is not yours. I apologize for the confusion I may have created by not making this clearer.

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline x-fuse

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« Reply #13 on: Sun, Jan 08, 2006, 12:42 PM »
Quote
works based or derived from another copyrighted work - is the exclusive province of the owner of the original work.


What that means that even your original character or plot from a fan fic does not belong to you. They belong to Universal, or whoever owns the rights to those movies.

Every single thing in any fan fic belongs to the company who owns the rights, nothing in those fics belongs to us. It is sad but true.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by x-fuse »

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Offline turncopper

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Copyright Update
« Reply #14 on: Fri, Mar 23, 2007, 06:36 PM »
I am not around VX very often at all anymore...I'm just too busy. However, I had a little free time today and I thought I would point out to everyone an important update on US Copyright. It involves a reduced fee for a new electronic submission system that will supposedly be available in July, making the process a little easier and a bit less expensive. Here is the link:

http://www.copyright.gov/reports/fees2007.html

Also, on a different branch of this subject (one relevant to the updating of information I am doing now), I have been looking into Poor Man's Copyright lately. I had mentioned Poor Man's Copyright in the first post of this thread, but rather than edit that post I thought to just say this in the update. I understand, from some very reliable sources, that the method is no longer valid. There have been some cases brought to my attention where the method failed in court. That leaves the most reliable way of copyrighting (if you want it to hold up in court) using the Government's Copyright office. This may not be true for countries other than the USA...I'm not sure because I live in the USA and don't really hear much on other countries. So you may want to do some research yourself. :)

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline DragonFire

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« Reply #15 on: Sat, Mar 24, 2007, 12:21 PM »
Thank you for the update, turncopper.  :)
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by DragonFire »

Offline Rachel

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« Reply #16 on: Fri, Jan 25, 2008, 12:37 PM »
Something interesting:

Quote
Open Forums

You do not give up a copyright just because you post something to a newsgroup, message board, chat room or other forum. You still own the copyright, but it may be impossible to enforce this right.


    * If you post an original work to a newsgroup, forum, chat room, etc, you still own the copyright. However, it may be a moot point since it is virtually impossible to enforce.


    * The exception is if the terms and conditions of the message board or chatroom state otherwise. In this case, the message board owner might be granted the copyright, or the words may be released into the public domain. It is always wise to read and understand the terms and conditions of a public board before posting.



Source
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Rachel »

Offline evilgrin

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« Reply #17 on: Fri, Jan 25, 2008, 12:38 PM »
thanks, Rachel :)
Elaine:)
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by evilgrin »

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