Monday, November 2, 2009

Chinese Writers Ask Copyright Compensation from Google

The China Written Works Copyright Society (CWWCS) will send a letter to Google China to discuss over the latter's compensations to Chinese writers relating to copyright.

Previously, Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating) reached an agreement in the US, which aimed to come up with a regulation for the emerging e-book industry. However, the agreement irritated writers and publishers in Europe, which forbade Google to print European books published within 150 years.

Some believe that Google's compromise with European writers and publishers is applicable to Chinese works. However, the CWWCS dose not agree with their opinion, pointed out its executive deputy secretary Zhang Hongbo.

The compromise says that writers will get one-time compensation and 63% of the sales revenues from the e-books produced on the basis of their works, if Google scans their publications without permission.

The CWWCS finds out that Google has violated the copyrights of 570 Chinese writers by printing their 17,000 books. Some of them have entrusted the CWWCS to protect their rights.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Artists to Ask Administration to Protect Copyright

The Copyright Alliance and its grassroots network of creators today announced circulation among creators nationwide of a letter to President Obama and Vice President Biden, asking the Administration to pursue policies supportive of the rights of artists.

"Artists and creators make important contributions not only to our society and culture, but also to our economy," said Lucinda Dugger, the Alliance's Director of Outreach. "Increasingly, creators are finding their work misappropriated, reproduced and distributed without their knowledge, consent or benefit by those who believe intellectual property should be free for the taking. It is important that creators speak up about how the principle of copyright empowers and provides incentive for creators."

The announcement follows a rapid internal response to the letter, which within a few days of circulation among the Alliance's grassroots network garnered nearly 7,000 electronic signatures. With artists encouraging participation within their personal networks on blogs and Twitter feeds, the letter already has been signed by creators in all 50 states and representing a full spectrum of creative disciplines.

Signers include authors, photographers, songwriters, graphic designers, filmmakers, musicians, publishers, jewelry designers, web designers, photojournalists, illustrators, video game developers, architects, cartoonists, composers, playwrights, voice actors, animators, sculptors, painters and videographers.

Individuals interested in signing the letter can do so at The Alliance intends to deliver the letter to the Administration later this fall.

Consequences of Plagiarism by John Halasz

Plagiarism is a wide-spread problem in academia, and its personal and societal consequences are equally diverse. Although the penalties for plagiarism vary among different academic institutions, it is not acceptable in any college or university. Consequences may range from a simple warning to being expelled from the school.

Personal Consequences of plagiarism

On a personal level, being caught plagiarizing can be quite embarrassing. People usually view those who plagiarize as being a fraud or phony, a cheater and even a con. In essence, plagiarism can be viewed as theft. In addition to stealing someone else's work, the plagiarizer also deprives someone else, who is arguably more qualified, from gaining employment,

Societal or Economical Consequences of plagiarism

Plagiarism is a widespread problem in the education world. It is so rampant among academic institutions that it does not find its way to newspaper headlines anymore. Educators not agreeing with the practice made it a rule to have their students written works submitted to plagiarism check software or company like Turnitin. This ensures that the written works are original and not copied from any other author, as the software will check phrases duplicates with other sites.

Student Consequences of plagiarism

Students who are caught face serious consequences of plagiarism. Consequences include receiving a verbal warning, a failing grade, or expulsion from the university. The Dean of Student Affairs usually implement the failing status and expulsion of the student when found guilty. The student may not be aware of the intensity of the act and the penalties that go with it. This is a serious offense and educational institutions are implementing harsh punishments to students caught practicing plagiarism. The use of another student's work or even another author's work in the internet is a serious plagiarism offense that can damage your career and future. The instructor usually decides the kind of punishment to give the student.

Plagiarism does not take into account the time and effort one puts into the study or research. This is quite unfair to other students who had been spending significant amount of time to complete their projects. Plagiarism often makes original authors feel angry and betrayed. The consequences of plagiarism include the eradication or suppression of creativity and critical thinking. The objective of education is to keep a learning environment that would encourage students to become independent and original thinkers. When a student plagiarizes, they lose their creativity.

A student found guilty of plagiarism incurs severe disciplinary consequences. There are serious consequences of plagiarism implemented by the instructor, such as receiving a failing grade. The case reported to the University's Dean of Students will also be included in the student's school records. Repeated practices of plagiarism can lead to expulsion from the university. Plagiarism can also lead to serious damages like lawsuits, disgrace, and loss of position.

With graduate students, the consequences of plagiarism tend to be swift. The plagiarizer cannot participate from graduate programs and usually obtains a failing grade. Most universities also ban them from enrolling in another course for a period of five years. Junior faculties could lose their jobs. If is an MBA or PhD program, the school will probably allow the plagiarizer to withdrawal their degree. Administration is reluctant to charge plagiarism with graduate students who are in an MBA or PhD program. Some educational systems treat plagiarizers as troublemakers. Furthermore, they received lectures concerning defamation and libel.

The definition of plagiarism is rooted in dishonesty. There are many factors to consider why a student could commit plagiarism. One is the absence of citation or improper use of referencing. A student's failure to know the rules and regulations in citing sources could make him commit unwanted plagiarism. The instructor could penalize the student to redo the writing assignment and coach him to improve citing text. Students who plagiarize usually obtain a lower grade or a failing grade. The student may still have the chance to pass the course provided his other works are good. However, if the instructor were convinced that the student lied about the research materials resources and cheated about the project, then he would implement stiffer penalties. The student may get a failing grade for the assignment at the same time get a failing grade for the course. The most common consequences of plagiarism are a failing grade for the course. Plagiarism is a growing epidemic, which transcends to students and professors.

John Halasz is a former writing teacher and currently a professional writer and internet marketer. He has written SEO articles and ghostwritten novels, books, and scholarly articles.

A Canisius College graduate, he went on to the University of Buffalo for his teaching certificate in English writing, earning a 3.934 GPA before going on to teach in Brooklyn, NY.

To learn more about writing or to hire a ghostwriter, see John Halasz's Writing Services and SEO copywriting services.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Software Could Pave The Way To End Tune Plagiarism

Software developed by an academic at Goldsmiths, University of London could spell the end for future melody plagiarism.

Dr Daniel M├╝llensiefen, from the Department of Psychology and formerly working in Computing, has co-published research on how to predict court decisions on music plagiarism using cognitive similarity algorithms. The study has recently been published by the European specialist journal Musicae Scientiae and results were presented publicly for the first time at the international conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences in Music (ESCOM) in Finland in August.

Daniel worked alongside Marc Pendzich, an expert on cover versions and music re-mixes from the Institute of Musicology University of Hamburg, on the software which is based on modelling court decision for cases of alleged melodic plagiarism employing a number of similarity algorithms.

The two researchers used court cases from the US as a testbed for their software and 90 per cent of the court decisions were predicted correctly by the newly developed algorithms.

Tune plagiarism in pop music is a common and often feverishly debated phenomenon, so controversial due to the vast amounts of money involved in today's pop music industry.

Artists as high profile as Madonna, George Harrison and the Bee Gees have all been involved in music plagiarism cases.

The similarity between melodies is assumed to be a very important factor in a court's decision about whether a new tune is an illegitimate version of a pre-existing melody.

Under the current system, the jury is advised by expert witnesses to come to a decision – something both Daniel and Marc have indeed done – but they admit that one of the long term effects of their work could substantially alter the need for a jury and expert witnesses.

"The most provocative question you could ask is whether this software could replace a jury and expert witnesses in court," Daniel said.

"Also, on a very popular level you could claim that the software can detect melodic plagiarism in popular music automatically. Thus, in principle we could develop this into a business where songwriters and music publishers submit songs and we test against a database whether there are any highly similar pre-existing melodies in it."

Currently these developments are hypothetical due to the sample of cases it has been tested on being so small (20 cases), but Daniel and Marc are working on a follow-up study to include more US cases and to test whether the prediction accuracy holds also true for British and German plagiarism suits.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Copyright Consultant Reveals Little-Known Fact About the Future of Michael Jackson's Estate

Giving insight into why the struggle over Michael Jackson's estate may have been so fierce, Deeann D. Mathews, copyright consultant and author of The Freedom Guide for Music Creators, reveals a secret to the value of the estate of the late "King of Pop" -- recapture rights.

Most musicians believe that once they assign their copyright to a publishing company, they give up control for all time. But U.S. Copyright law includes a provision in which a songwriter or their heirs can "recapture," or regain full administrative control of their songs. Mathews says, "35 years after your work has been published, or 40 years after you've assigned your work to a publisher if publication has not happened, a five-year period begins in which you or your heirs can demand full control of your copyrights back. There is nothing a publisher can do but give you what you want, if you do it right."

The only catch: You must formalize your demand in writing two years before you want your song back. In other words, the latest you could file your demand is the 38th year after your work has been published, or the 43rd year after your work went to a publisher but was not published.

In the case of Michael Jackson, many of his early solo hits are now in the recapture period, including "Got to Be There" (1972) and "Ben." (1972). Jackson 5 hits in the recapture period include "Sugar Daddy" (1972), and the huge hit "Dancing Machine" (1973, re-released as a single in 1974). Next year, the Jackson 5's "All I Do is Think of You" and the solo "Take Me Back" will enter the recapture period (both released in 1975, 34 years ago). In five years, Jackson's hit "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (1979) will enter the recapture period, and in eight years, everything on Jackson's mega-hit album Thriller (1982) will also enter the recapture period.

"The control of millions of not billions of dollars in assets would go from the music industry back to Jackson's heirs if they were to pursue these rights," says Mathews. "The takeaway for every musician should be this: you also can exercise similar control. If you're not happy with what your publisher is doing, or if you are happy but you think you can do better, get those letters of demand ready for that 35th year."

Deeann D. Mathews, award-winning composer, copyright consultant and author of The Freedom Guide for Music Creators, has helped a number of songwriters register and protect their copyrights, researched copyright status for songs in major projects, and educated music students on the basics of the music industry. For more information, visit Mathews' "Music Business a Go-Go" site at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Paper Offers 'How-To' Guide for Protecting Entrepreneurs' Big Ideas

Successful entrepreneurs turn big ideas into successful business opportunities, but how should they protect those ideas? A new paper from North Carolina State University offers a "how-to" guide on intellectual property protection, laying out the options for budding entrepreneurs as they consider how to move forward.

"Entrepreneurs often come up with ideas that can be protected, and this article lays out the pros and cons of various intellectual-property protections," says Dr. Stephen Schanz, a teaching associate professor of management, innovation and entrepreneurship at NC State and the author of the article. "Furthermore, the paper urges entrepreneurs to weigh the time, cost and effort involved in pursuing various intellectual-property protections."

The three protections outlined in the paper are patents, trade secrets and copyrights. Patents apply to inventions and devices. Utility patents provide legal protection of the idea for 20 years, dating from when the patent application is filed. However, when the 20 years are up, the information becomes part of the public domain. Trade secrets also apply to inventions or devices, but are protected internally, meaning that there is very little in the way of public protection. The benefit is that the idea never enters the public domain, so it can remain secret in perpetuity – a good example of a trade secret is the formula for Coca-Cola. However, if anyone else figures it out, they can legally market it themselves.

The third type of protection is a copyright. Copyrights protect unique expressions, such as music, art or design. These elements can be a significant component of marketable products, such as the sounds and images associated with popular video games.

"Determining which protections best suit your needs is not a ‘one size fits all' scenario," Schanz says. "The options you may want to consider will vary over time." For example, he says, "entrepreneurs in a young start-up company with limited capital and resources may want to go the trade secret route until they ascertain how it fits in their business plan. But, if they have determined that the idea is valuable, they should also take steps to ensure that – eventually – it can be patented." Schanz explains that if an entrepreneur discusses the idea with outside parties who have not signed non-disclosure agreements, the idea may no longer be patentable – it will have entered public domain.

"If, over time, the start-up company has more resources available - and the concept is commercially viable - it may want to pursue a patent," Schanz says. "The important thing is for the entrepreneur to weigh the risks and benefits of various options and make an informed decision. This paper should help entrepreneurs do that."

The paper, "Entrepreneurial Options for Protecting Intellectual Property," was published in the September issue of the Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Photographers File Objections to Proposed Google Settlement

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), joined by the Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, and several prominent individual photographers, has filed documents in opposition to the proposed settlement of the consolidated copyright infringement actions against Google instituted by the Authors Guild, Inc. and the Association of American Publishers, Inc. ASMP and the other trade associations represent thousands of photographers, graphic artists, and other copyright owners who assert that they were excluded from the process as well as from the proposed $125 million settlement.

Earlier this year, ASMP published a statement expressing concerns about the class action settlement between authors, publishers and Google, and indicated its intention to file objections. Since that time, the four professional associations have joined forces, working together to oppose the settlement which excludes photographers and graphic artists from millions of dollars in payment, as well as from participation in future revenues to be generated by Google under the proposed settlement. ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik said, "ASMP believes that the proposed settlement has far-reaching consequences for the work product and livelihoods of creators of visual images. Through this filing, we hope to stop a settlement that would hurt our members and those of our sister organizations, and to participate in obtaining a fair and equitable solution."

According to the filing, the Proposed Settlement purports to serve both the public interest and the interests of the class members as well as Google, but it would, in fact, serve the financial interests of only a select few while irrevocably damaging the interests of others. ASMP General Counsel Victor Perlman said, "The vast majority of photographers and graphic artists, whose works have been and continue to be digitized by Google without authorization, and who have been members of the plaintiffs' class since June 2006, would neither receive compensation for past infringement nor any benefit going forward.” Perlman added, "The visual arts community has copyright interests at stake that are just as important as the copyright interests of authors and publishers that this Proposed Settlement is designed to protect.” The documents filed by ASMP will be available at

Founded in 1944, ASMP is the leader in promoting photographers' rights, providing education in better business practices, producing business publications for photographers, and helping to connect purchasers with professional photographers. ASMP has 39 chapters across the country and its 7,000 members include many of the world's foremost photographers. More information is available at

The Graphic Artist Guild promotes and protects the social, economic and professional interests of its members. More information at

Monday, August 31, 2009

How to Copyright Your Own Work by Mark Sanford

Recently, one of my articles was placed on a site without proper credits. It was brought to my attention by this site ( I had submitted my article to them for posting, when to my shock; they informed me that someone else was claiming ownership of my work! After contacting the potential plagiarizing site, my article was immediately given the proper credit with an apology from the owner of the site. It appears as though the owner of the site lets bloggers place what they will on the site without too much concern. He now knows just what a serious problem that can be and is taking steps to enforce blogs to respect author copyright.

This has happened before, which may be indicative of good writing content, but I won't laud my own work. Not too much anyway. What this does bring to mind is just how to copyright your own work. Copyright is an automatic result of anyone placing any original content on the Internet. Behold the key word - "original".

Proving originality can be difficult. This is why there are sites that will act as third party logistics and hold your copyrighted material until you need proof. The problem with these sites is that they charge between $150 and $300 and if they go out of business some years down the road, well you are just out of luck and the money paid.

So, my solution to this problem is to email your original copy to yourself, before submitting it to any site. Once you have your emailed copy, save it to a folder marked 'copyright'. You can open this folder at any time and select an emailed article to show proof of your ownership, since the mailers are time stamped and cannot be edited. The copyright folder also holds the time stamp of when you placed the article in the folder and you can snapshot ( simply press 'print screen' on your keyboard ) a picture of that for more proof, if need be. Just remember to take a copy of your article from the copyright folder when sending it to someone as proof.

This is a quick and fairly good copyright. It is not a legal copyright, but it is proof to any server that you are the original owner of the questionable material, since anyone else will not have a timestamp preceding yours.

The DMCA ( The Digital Millennium Copyright Act ) makes it mandatory that each server becomes the stopgap for copyright infringement. That is, they are responsible to police their clients and if they don't comply they can be held responsible in a court of law.

Copyright infringement is a felony; so don't let anyone steal your work. If Google or any advertiser finds out a site is plagiarizing other people's material, they will drop them like a hot potato! So, stand your ground and make sure everyone knows you are the author of your work.

Mark is a retired communications specialist living in Austin, Tx. As Mark puts it "My wife and I, both, believe in the great benefits of a healthy body and soul." Mark writes for

Friday, August 28, 2009

Legal Tips Website Launched

A new website designed to publish helpful information about dealing with legal questions and needs has been launched as part of the Tips.Net network. The new site, Legal.Tips.Net, is focused on providing tips, tricks, ideas, and information on how to deal with the US legal system.

"Legal.Tips.Net is not a substitute for professional legal advice," stressed the site's publisher, Allen Wyatt. "It is, however, a way for the layman to better understand the often confusing world of the legal system"

The site is organized in a topical manner, allowing visitors to "drill down" to information they may need. In addition, the site includes ways in which the content can be searched by the user to discover exactly what they are looking for.

"This site makes a great addition to the Tips.Net network," said Wyatt. "We expect that it's value to individuals will continue to grow as new content is added on a regular basis"

Sharon Parq Associates (SPA) is a publisher of high-quality information on the Internet. Through their flagship site, Tips.Net, SPA provides a gateway to many other sites focused on providing helpful, timely information in a variety of topic areas. SPA also offers several weekly newsletters including ExcelTips, WordTips, Cleaning Tips, Organizing Tips, Cooking Tips, and Gardening Tips.

Monday, August 24, 2009

'Twilight' Author Stephanie Meyer Sued for Copyright Infringement Over 'Breaking Dawn'

Jordan Scott filed a copyright infringement suit today in the United States District Court in the Central California District against "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer for copyright infringement. Brought by J. Craig Williams, a partner with Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP (, the case is Jordan Scott v. Stephenie Meyer, Hachette Book Group and Megan Tingley Books (case #CV09-6076 MRP R7x). Scott alleges that Meyer plagiarized her novel "The Nocturne," which she wrote as a teenager and released passages, chapters and ultimately the entire book as she wrote them on her website

According to Williams, "This case is based on principle and Jordan deserves the recognition that her work was copied and her intellectual property violated. We are asking the court to order that 'Breaking Dawn,' the final book of Meyer's 'Twilight' series, and all derivative works be discontinued."

Williams earlier sent a cease-and-desist demand to Hachette Book Group, the publisher of the "Twilight" books, which have sold approximately 70 million copies and produced a movie series by Summit Entertainment. Hachette and Meyer declined to take any action in response to the demand. The first "Twilight" film has already earned more than $380 million worldwide and the next in the series, "New Moon," is planned to be released in theaters in November. According to the plaintiff, comparisons of Scott's "The Nocturne" and Meyer's "Breaking Dawn" show significant similarities.

"While Jordan's goal is about recognition for her work, after further and careful consideration, we have included a demand for monetary damages to preserve that remedy should Stephenie Meyer refuse to acknowledge Jordan as the source of Breaking Dawn," added Williams.

Jordan Scott's entire novel was also recently posted, without her permission, on a Web site where it was downloaded more than 30,000 times in just a few days before being caught.

Roanoke Man Pleads Guilty to Sending Threat, Copyright Violation

After arguing that a blog posting he authored that threatened to kill a San Francisco police officer, his wife and his child was protected speech, a local man has now admitted in Federal Court that his actions were in fact criminal.

Jeffrey Lynn Weaver, 47, of Roanoke, pleaded guilty today to one count of transmitting in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure, specially to injure a San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer. Weaver also entered a guilty plea to one count of copyright infringement.

"While every American citizen has the right to free speech, that right does not grant a person the right to threaten the life of another," United States Attorney Julia C. Dudley said today. "When speech crosses the line from dialogue and political hyperbole to a serious expression of an intent to commit a violent act, legal action must be taken."

"The FBI is fully committed to the protection of the freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. However, when one crosses the line into directly threatening the safety and wellbeing of another, that is another matter all together. The line was crossed in this particular case when a direct threat was made against the life of a police office and his family, including a newborn infant," said Jennifer Smith Love, Special Agent in Charge of the Richmond Division of the FBI.

Weaver, who lived in the Bay Area of California for several years before moving back to Roanoke in 2002, posted the threat on the internet news discussion website "" Weaver, while in a discussion about a violent incident involving a San Francisco police officer, wrote, in part:

" that I know who he is and where he is its only a matter of time and his punishment will be to watch his B---- and his baby get wasted in front of him and then he joins the B---- and the baby in hell when I finish the job by wasting his Pigs—Ass."

Today in District Court, Weaver also pleaded guilty to one count of copyright infringement for his involvement in a scheme to illegally download full-length feature movies for private financial gain. Following a search of his residence, authorities recovered thousands of illegally downloaded movies, many of which were multiple copies of the same movie.

Weaver was arrested on a criminal complaint on June 1, 2009 and has been in custody since that day. At sentencing, Weaver faces a maximum sentence of six years incarceration and/or a fine of up to $350,000. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for November 16, 2009.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation both in Roanoke and San Francisco. United States Attorney Julia C. Dudley and Assistant United States Attorney Ashley B. Neese prosecuted the case for the United States.

Monday, August 17, 2009

UK Music Copyright Law Basics by Barry D Walker

Confused about UK Copyright law in regards to music? Well, this article is here to help you understand about UK copyright law and expell some of the myths surrounding it.

How Do I Copyright My Music?

Once you have created a piece of music it is YOUR copyright, you just have to prove the date. To do this there are several ways such as giving a copy of the track to your lawyer. You can also post the track on a CD to yourself by registered post (signed for). Make sure that you have not only made an audio recording but also include your sequencer files as they will be dated by your computer also.

Do I Have To Register With MCPS/PRS?

No. A law was passed (in the UK) so that you can chose any person/organisation to represent your music and collect royalties. You can also do it yourself, collecting all the royalties and cutting out the middle man. However, collecting royalties and making sure that people aren't breaching your copyright can be time consuming if you become a big selling artist.

Can I Use Samples of Someone Else's Work In My Own Tracks?

No. You must not use anyone else work, no matter how long or short the sample is. Contrary to popular belief, samples under 15 seconds are NOT allowed under current copyright law. Also, even if you mangle the sample, its still illegal. So before sampling contact the owners.

There are tracks out there that you CAN sample, such as some tracks that have been released under certain open content licenses such as Creative Commons. But make sure that its ok by reading the license first as not all open content releases are available to create derivative versions of the works.

If you think its going be too much for you to get permission, there are sample clearance agencies that can do this for you.

Can I Create Cover Versions?

Yes and No. You can create the cover version, but you cannot distribute or perform the track without getting permission first. Usually venues pay a license for Copyrighted works of MCPS/PRS members music, but unfortunately not every musician is registered with MCPS/PRS. So make sure you know who they are registered with or if they collect their own royalties.

Copying it and distributing it is illegal without a license, so again contact MCPS/PRS or the original author before doing this.

Also, the same as remixes, there are tracks out their released under Creative Commons license and you may be allowed to create cover versions of the works. But, check the license before using the track.

What Is Creative Commons License?

A Creative Commons license is used for free material, including audio, and works alongside copyright so that you can set out the terms of the copyright to suit you. see

How Do I Make It Clear My Track Is Copyright?

On every demo you send out be it via post, email or link you can put "© 2009 Your Name". Or you can put "Copyright Control" which tells everyone that the track is copyrighted, but has no publishers yet.

Can I upload DJ Mixes I Mixed Myself?

Again, permission must be sought from the original authors of the material you are planning on using in DJ Mixes. Some websites claim to be legal to upload mixes to, but you have to be careful and check whether this is true or not. If you are unsure of the websites legality, then do not upload.

However, tracks released under the Creative Commons license CAN be used in FREE mixes you upload to the net as long as you do not make any money from the mixes. Check the Creative Commons license for full details.

Can I Add Someone Else's Music To A Video?

Permission again must be sought to use music in your video's. Even if you are not making any money, you still have to get permission.

Hopefully you have now gotten to grips with basic uk copyright law. If not here are the main points:

1. Copyright belongs to the creator as soon as it is created

2. If you don't own the copyright, then you cannot use it without permission in any works

Barry Walker is a dance music producer and owner of Dance Music Netlabel,

Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Stop Other Writers Stealing Your Book Or Film Idea - 5 Tips by Stephanie J. Hale

Authors and scriptwriters are often worried that someone might steal their book or film idea. They become nervous once they start sending out their manuscript to agents or producers.

I usually offer a number of reassurances to writers who ask me about this. Here are some of the points to consider:

1. Date-stamped mail
A simple and legal way to safeguard your copyright is to send a copy of your manuscript to yourself via registered mail ensuring that the package is date stamped. You can then leave the envelope sealed - something that is valid in a court of law.

2. Register your work
There are a number of companies that offer to 'hold' your manuscript for you or register your idea for a small fee. In my opinion, this is unnecessary. However, if this sets your mind at rest, this is an option to consider.

3. Ideas & concepts
Be aware that there is no copyright for an 'idea' or a 'concept'. This is because there are very few original book or film ideas. Most ideas are workings or reworkings of archetypal or classic plot lines.

4. What is unique?
What makes a plot unique is the writer who writes it. Consider 'Romeo and Juliet' and then 'West Side Story'. Same plot, different writer. You could say that Stephen Sondheim stole the idea from Shakespeare. Yet the new story set in 1950s New York is a masterpiece in its own right.

5. Professional reputation
Agents and producers work hard to build up their reputation for excellence and professionalism. They wouldn't last five minutes if they started stealing clients' ideas. In this Internet age, where millions of people are connected via blogs, ezine and social media, word would soon get about. You can quickly and easily check out the credentials of most book and film professionals simply by using Google.

5. Your passion
Every writer has their own passion. I might love the pitch for a thriller set on a desert island. But the fact is, I could never write it even if I researched it. Passion is the hidden ingredient that gives writing its energy, vibrancy and appeal. Without it, writing is lifeless and dull. Remember that no-one else will ever be able to write like you.

Stephanie J Hale is a leading writers' coach and publishing expert. She's worked with bestselling authors and top literary agents for over 20 years. She specializes in helping writers get the publishing deal and readership they deserve. More FREE publishing tips at:

Friday, August 7, 2009

5 Tips to Determine Who Owns a Copyright by Justine Shoolman

The rights granted through copyright law are very important to the owner of the copyright. As such, it is imperative to understand who the owner of the work is to determine who actually has the rights.

Tip 1: Creator is the Owner

As a general rule, the creator of the copyright (the author) is the owner. When there are several authors involved in the creation of a work, all authors are considered co-authors. It is recommended you determine together, and agree in writing, what share of income from the exploitation of that copyright each of you will earn.

There are, however, a number of circumstances where the author is not the owner of copyright and is not entitled to the rights copyright provides. These situations are described below in Tips two through five.

Tip 2: Commissioned Works

If a work is commissioned, the copyright might belong to the person who is commissioning the work - and not the person creating the work. An example of this would be a bride and groom who commission a photographer to shoot their wedding. If the photographer held the rights to the photographs, then the wedding couple would not have the right to reproduce their photos. However, since the rights to the photos actually belong to the commissioning couple, they can make as many copies as they please to send to their friends and family.

Tip 3: Course of Employment

Another example where the copyright might not belong to the creator is with works created in the course of employment. For instance, if copy was written for an advertisement during the course of employment at an advertising firm, the person who wrote the copy would not own the copyright because it was written while performing their contract to the company. In other words, if the work was created under a "contract of service" as part of the terms of employment, the employee probably owns the copyright.

Tip 4: Transferring of Copyrights

In some situations, the owner of the copyright might actually choose to transfer the rights to another party through a contract. For example, a musician might transfer their rights to a song to a record label in return for a portion of the revenue earned for each copy sold.

Tip 5: Check the Contract

In many cases there will be a contract involving the creation. Always review the fine print to ensure you know who is retaining the rights to the copyright.

In all cases where copyright is concerned, it's important to understand who the owner of the work is to determine who holds the rights to reproduce the work.


The above information is meant as a general guide to further your copyright knowledge and does not constitute legal advice. For questions about your specific work, you should consult a copyright lawyer in your country.

Justine Shoolman is a Founder of Copyright Creators (CC), a service inspired by the shortfalls of poor man's copyright. CC protects copyright for life with no membership fees. Visit CC today to receive 4 free registrations.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Duration of Copyright Explained by Justine Shoolman

Could copyright get any more complicated? There are so many factors that play into the laws governing each work, and determining the duration of copyright is no exception.

As a general rule for countries who are signatories of the Bern Convention (over 100 countries are members of this convention), the minimum duration of copyright is 50 years after the death of the author. Some countries, however, have chosen to increase this to 70 years after the death of the author.

Although there is a general rule of thumb, copyright duration can depend on any number of factors including: when the work was created, the nature of the work, the number of authors and whether they remained anonymous or used pseudonyms, and the country where the work was created.

In addition, the duration of copyright is usually calculated based on the authors, and not the owners of the copyright. In some cases, the author may sell their work so that someone else owns it. If this is the case, duration is still generally based on the author's life, and not the owner's.

Let's take a look at each a number of factors that can affect the duration of copyright.

When was the Work Created?

In some countries, the date of creation of the work may have a significant impact on the duration of copyright. For instance, in the United States, works created after January 1st 1978 have a different copyright duration than works created before this date. In the U.K, 1996 is a significant date.

What is the Nature of the Work?

A very important variable in determining the duration of copyright is the nature of the work being protected. Is it a literary creation or a musical creation? Is it an artistic work or perhaps a sound creation? Depending on what the work is will change the duration of the copyright protection.

For instance, for cinematographic works, the term may be 50 years after the making of the work. For photographic works, protection is generally 25 years from the making of the work.

How Many Authors Are There?

The general minimum duration of copyright for Berne Convention countries is 50 years after the death of the author. When there are multiple authors, the minimum duration will be 50 years after the passing of the last surviving author.

Are the Authors Anonymous or do they go by Pseudonyms?

The duration can become more complicated when the authors are anonymous or go by pseudonyms. Since we do not know when the author passes for anonymous works, the general rule of duration is 50 years from the date the work was made available to the public.

In the case where the author's identity is hidden with a pseudonym, the work may be protected for a period of 50 from the first publication, or 75 years from the making of the work (whichever is shorter). If, however, the identity of the author is identified, the regular 'life + 50' or 'life +70' rule would apply. Each country may have their own duration rules when it comes to Anonymous and Pseudonymous authors. For instance, the U.S. goes by the 95/120 rule where the duration is 95 years after publication or 120 after creation, whichever is shorter.

In What Country was the Work Created?

As discussed above, the nation in which the work was created can dictate differences in copyright duration. As well, according to the Berne convention's Principal of National Treatment, nations will give nationals of other Berne countries the same treatment as their own nationals. For example, a work created in Canada enjoys the 'life + 50' rule for duration. However, in the U.S, they will receive the 'life + 70' rule because that is the law dictated in the U.S.


The above information is meant as a general guide to further your copyright knowledge and does not constitute legal advice. For questions about your specific work, you should consult a copyright lawyer in your country.

Justine Shoolman is a Founder of Copyright Creators (CC), a service inspired by the shortfalls of "poor man's copyright". CC protects copyright for life with no membership fees. Visit CC today to receive 4 free registrations.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Nolo Launches Free Plain-English Law Dictionary Application

Nolo, the nation's leading publisher of plain-English DIY legal and business tools, has launched Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App for the iPhone and iPod touch. The free app is now available on the Apple App Store, allowing anywhere, anytime access to nearly 4,000 legal terms and definitions, the same terms and definitions available as a book that retails for $29.99.

"Quick, easy-to-use access to the latest legal terms and definitions just got a whole lot easier for students, business owners, media, paralegals and others" said Ralph Warner, CEO of Nolo. Compiled and edited by a team of lawyers, Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App includes essential legal definitions - Latin terms, courtroom jargon, contract basics - plus newly minted terms that reflect the ever changing language of the law.

"This app is part of the evolution of how Nolo is providing the latest legal content to our customers," said Warner. "Nearly 40 years ago, people came to Nolo for DIY legal books, information they couldn't get anywhere else. Now they read our blogs, listen to our podcasts, download our online legal forms and search our online national lawyer directory when they need an attorney. Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App is a continuation of the way we provide content in the formats that are both needed and instantly useful," Warner said.

Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App is available for free from Apple's App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Court Halts Operators’ Deceptive Pitches for Grant Writing Book and Services

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and three state Attorneys General, a U.S. district court judge has stopped an operation from falsely claiming that it could help consumers secure a "$25,000 Grant" -- guaranteed -- from the U.S. government. The case is the latest in a Commission crackdown on scammers trying to capitalize on the economic downturn by targeting people facing financial hardship. The FTC is working with federal and state law enforcement agencies nationwide to bring such actions.

In a complaint filed this week, the FTC, jointly with the Attorneys General of Kansas, Minnesota, and North Carolina, charged that Grant Writers Institute, LLC and its related entities ( together, GWI ) falsely told consumers that they were eligible for grants as part of the recently announced economic stimulus package. The complaint alleged that the defendants' false and deceptive claims violate federal law, state consumer protection laws, and the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule. The complaint seeks a court order permanently stopping the defendants' illegal conduct and forcing them to return money to consumers injured by the scheme.

"Stamping out grant fraud and other types of schemes that take advantage of consumers in dire financial shape continues to be one of the Federal Trade Commission's highest priorities," said David Vladeck, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. "There is no such thing as a guaranteed grant. But to consumers in financial trouble, the chance for extra income – guaranteed or otherwise – can unfortunately be a huge draw."

According to the FTC, since at least 2007, GWI has mass mailed postcards to consumers across the country falsely claiming that the consumers "are Guaranteed a $25,000 Grant from the U.S. Government." Consumers who call the number are pitched a $59 book titled "Professional Grant Writer ‘The Definitive Guide to Grant Writing Success.'" The company's telemarketers falsely claim that the book will explain how to get government grants -- including the "guaranteed" $25,000 grant. GWI and its North Carolina-based telemarketers, also named as defendants in the complaint, then call consumers who have bought the book, trying to get them to pay hundreds of dollars or more for grant research, writing, or coaching services, falsely claiming a 70 percent success rate in securing grant funding. In reality, few, if any consumers ever receive any grant money.

The Commission contends that in addition to falsely claiming consumers were "guaranteed" to receive grants, GWI used the current government stimulus package to make its pitch. For example, when consumers called the number on the mass-mailed postcard, they heard a recording that said, "If you've been reading the papers you know that recently our government released $700 billion into the private sector. What you probably don't know is that there is another $300 billion that must be given away this year to people just like you." The recording continues, "And if you're one of the lucky few who knows how to find and apply for these grants, you will receive a check for $25,000 or more, and we guarantee it . . . If you don't get a check for $25,000 or more, you pay nothing."

The Commission vote to issue the complaint – jointly with the Attorneys General of Kansas, Minnesota, and North Carolina regarding the alleged telemarketing violations – was 4-0. The complaint contains additional charges and remedies to address state-specific violations.
It was filed on July 20, 2009, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, and the court granted the Commission's request for a temporary restraining order on July 22, 2009. The FTC thanks the state Attorneys General for their substantial contribution to investigating and filing this complaint.

The complaint announced today was filed against the following defendants: 1 ) Affiliate Strategies, Inc.; 2 ) Landmark Publishing Group, LLC ( d/b/a G.F. Institute and Grant Funding Institute ); 3 ) Grant Writers Institute, LLC; 4 ) Answer Customers, LLC; 5 ) Apex Holdings International, LLC; 6 ) Brett Blackman, individually and as an officer, manager, and/or member of Affiliate Strategies, Inc., Landmark Publishing Group, LLC, Grant Writers Institute, LLC, Answer Customers, LLC, and Apex Holdings International, LLC; 7 ) Jordan Sevy, individually and as a manager of Landmark Publishing Group, LLC; 8 ) James Rulison, individually and as president of Answer Customers, LLC, all located in Kansas.

In addition, the complaint names the following North Carolina entities as defendants: 1 ) Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC ( d/b/a Grant Writers Research Network ); 2 ) Martin Nossov, individually and as a manager and member of Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC; and 3 ) Alicia Nossov, individually and as a manager and member of Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC.

The Commission recently announced several other grant fraud cases as part of the "Operation Short Change" law enforcement sweep targeting economic stimulus frauds. More information about these cases can be found at:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Understanding Copyright - The 3 Must Know Tips by Justine Shoolman

The more I speak with people, the more I realize copyright is a topic that is still commonly misunderstood.

This article is intended to clarify some of the major questions about copyright so people can feel comfortable promoting their work to outside parties.

Tip 1: What is Copyright?

It only seems logical to begin this article by describing what copyright really is. In essence, copyright protects original works from being used without permission from the author or owner of the work. The reason for the protection is to encourage creators to continue with their artistic innovations, which positively impacts the economy.

Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or owner of the work for a specific period of time. The rights granted by copyright include:

* producing or reproducing the work or any substantial part thereof
* permitting the reproduction of the work or any substantial part thereof
* performing the work or any substantial part thereof
* publishing the work or any substantial part thereof
* translating the work into other languages, or creating an adaption, such as a novel into a screenplay

The significance of these rights is that the owner of the copyright can control who uses their work. As a result, the creative integrity of the work can be maintained as the owner has control over its use.

Tip 2: How do I Attain Copyright Protection?

The beauty about copyright is that it is automatic the moment you put your original work into a fixed (tangible) form. When we refer to a tangible form it means the work has to be on something physical. In other words, if you simply recite your poem to someone, you do not own the copyright. However, if you write the poem on a napkin, or record yourself reciting the poem, you will own the copyright, and the rights that go along with it.

Although copyright is automatic the moment you put your work in a fixed form, it could still be very difficult to prove you are the original creator of the work. As such, it can be a good idea to create legal proof of your ownership through a copyright registry. Many countries run their own registries. There are also registries through various artistic guilds, or even online registries.

Tip 3: What Works are Protected by Copyright?

Different countries may classify their works slightly differently. As a general guide, copyright extends to original creative works. Below are some examples and the classifications of works that can be protected by copyright:

o Literary Works (lyrics, novels, computer software source code, plays, etc.)
o Artistic Works/Visual Works (architectural work, sculptures, drawings, paintings, maps, photographs, etc.)
o Musical Works (musical composition with or without words)
o Dramatic Works (films, videos, choreography)
o Sound Recordings (recordings of music, dramas, lectures, etc. It does not include soundtracks to audio visual works).
o Serials & Periodicals (newspapers, magazines, bulletins, newsletters, journals, periodicals, etc.)

Now that you know what is protected by copyright, let's take a quick look at what is not protected by copyright.

Copyright protects the expression of a work. The idea of the work itself cannot be protected under copyright law. In other words, one thousand people can write about the concept of copyright, and each of them would hold the copyright to their specific expression about the topic. In addition to ideas, other works not protected by copyright include: concepts, names, titles, slogans, factual information, themes, catch-phrases, methods, governmental documents, etc.

The above information is meant as a general guide to further your copyright knowledge and does not constitute legal advice. For questions about your specific work, you should consult a copyright lawyer in your country.

Justine Shoolman is a Founder of Copyright Creators (CC), a service inspired by the shortfalls of poor man's copyright. CC protects copyright for life with no membership fees. Visit CC today to receive 4 free registrations.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Copyright Information - Make Money With Expired Copyrights by Bob Silber

There are a lot of ways to make money on the World Wide Web that a lot of internet users from different parts of the globe are currently engaged in different fields of eCommerce. They can be lucrative, well-known businesses or small yet manageable means of making money online. Any of these can be an option that the person can opt for to be able to earn on the sides aside from the normal 9 to 5 jobs that he or she are employed to every single day. For this article, the idea of making money through expired copyrights will be discussed as this is a possible though normally misunderstood sideline that people adopt when on the web.

If you have just been given an opportunity to make money through this kind of means and are curious as to how the job works, then this article is for you. Basically books and other kinds of works published online are marked with copyrights, which are intellectual rights that owners like authors, directors, photographers and artists exercise to claim ownership of their works that are made open to the public domain. There is a need to place such copyrights onto these works because many internet users have the knowledge and the skill to redistribute these works to different parts of the net, using their own websites for instance, and claiming them as their own. This is obviously a violation of rights for the owners of these works and, at times, a liability on the part of the ISP's or internet service providers. Not only are they involved in such cases (though without actual participation), the reputation of the company can be tainted because of lack of protection for their subscribers.

So if you want to make money online using other people's works, the best options are either to ask for permission from the creators themselves or use expired copyrights and domains to be able to make money without violating any copyright laws or misinterpreting copyright information. Here are some tips on how to gain copyright information and how to make money with expired copyrights:

* You have to remember that reselling expired copyrights go hand-in-hand with risks of copyright infringement. So before selling digital goods such as e-books, music, and the like for the public domain, you have to make sure that the copyrights of the book has already expired and has not been renewed by the author or owner of such works.

* Copyrights or patents of works normally have durations of 20 to 50 years in most countries, so you have to remember that any work in which their copyrights were bought 20 to 50 years before the current year are considered expired and open to the public domain if not renewed by the author. Once you are able to confirm that the patent has expired, then you can use these to make money.

* An example of the trend of the business: a book's copyrights have expired and are now open to the public's use. A person who wishes to make money out of this can do so by reusing the ideas of the book, adding more updated information to add flavor and credibility, and then selling it to his or her target market.

Want to learn how to make serious cash from expired copyrights? Go to to learn how today!

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to Copyright - Common Law and Statutory Law Compared by Brian A. Hall

It is widely misunderstood that one must file a copyright with the Copyright Office in order to secure a copyright. While acquiring a registration does indeed have its advantages, a registration within the Copyright Office is not required to secure rights. Instead, under common law, a copyright is automatically created when it is fixed in a tangible form for the first time. As long as it is an original work of authorship, you may claim ownership and protection and even place a copyright notice, including the "small c with a circle" symbol, on the particular work. Although a notice is not required any longer, should one desire to use it, it is important to follow the convention of using the © symbol followed by the year of the first publication of the work followed by the owner of the copyright and the work.

While creating and maintaining common law copyright protection is beneficial, the Copyright Act, a federal statute, provides additional benefits and protection rights to an owner. The most commonly recognized rights are the ability to sue within federal court, the ability to recover statutory damages up to $150,000.00 for willful infringement, and the ability to recover attorneys' fees. However, in order to receive these benefits, the copyright must be registered with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. While the time of filing for registration may affect which statutory damages are available, one must receive registration or be refused registration in order to proceed with an infringement lawsuit in federal court. Therefore, for a relatively small price, it is advisable to seek registration for all original works of authorship at the time of, or prior to, publication of the work. In addition, creating a public record of the work claimed, establishing a prima facia evidence of the validity, and other benefits make registration well worth the cost. With the ability to use online filing, there is no excuse for failure to register a copyright for whatever kind of work, including literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial graphic and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audio-visual works, sound recorders, and architectural works.

Ultimately, people must remember that as soon as an original work of authorship is fixed in a tangible form and published, a copyright exists. However, under statutory law, and practically speaking, having a copyright registration with the Copyright Office will provide the additional benefits and advantages should the need to enforce it arise.

Brian A. Hall is an attorney and partner of Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm specializing in complex litigation, intellectual property matters, internet law, and copyright registration and copyright infringement matters. Speak with a copyright attorney today and learn more about the importance of understanding the intricacies of copyright registration and other copyright issues.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Copyright a Logo by Shannon Moore

When deciding to protect your logo or design it can be a bit confusing trying to decide how to protect it. After all, your logo is basically the face of your product line or your services so it makes sense that you'd want to do the right thing when it comes to ensuring that you have exclusive rights to it.

The question is should you copyright your logo or trademark your logo? The answer, surprisingly, may be both.

The US Copyright Office states "copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship." What does this mean exactly?

Each logo or design is going to vary from the next in regard to being eligible for copyright protection, of course, but the key to understanding is learning what is meant by "sufficient authorship." Logos or designs that fall into any one of the two categories are not eligible for copyright protection:

* "familiar symbols or designs," e.g. the peace sign, a single arrow, a Latin cross, etc.
* "mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering or coloring," e.g. text in Times New Roman font, Text Using Only Sentence Case, text in purple

An even easier way to think about is to ask yourself one question about your logo - was there any creativity involved at all in designing the logo? If you're using a symbol you found in Microsoft Word or in a clip art program, then no. If you're using a logo you or someone else designed for you that contain a degree of creativity and/or uniqueness of some form or fashion, then yes.

Even if your logo does qualify for copyright protection, do not assume it's the same as trademark protection. Copyrights and trademarks are fraternal twins - obviously related but look nothing alike. Copyrights protect the image itself whereas the trademark protects the image as it is used within the marketplace.

To protect your logo IN CONNECTION with your product line and/or services, a trademark is the way to go. The purpose of having a trademark, be it for a name, logo or slogan, is to obtain exclusive rights to the mark within your particular industry. This ensures that there will not be customer confusion when it comes to your goods/services and another within your industry.

Filing a trademark for a logo is similar to filing a trademark for a name. Comprehensive research is likely needed to ensure that the same or similar design is not already filed. I know what you're thinking - I know my logo is unique OR I paid for my logo to be designed so I know no one else has it - we hear that a lot. The one thing to always remember about trademarks is that the mark need not be exact to another. If there's a chance for customer confusion, it can be a problem.

Shannon Moore is the General Manager for TradeMark Express. Since 1992, TradeMark Express has met the needs of their clients with comprehensive research, application preparation, attorney referrals and trademark consultation. For further details, please visit us on the web at TradeMark Express or call Shannon directly at 800.340.2010.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Copyright - What is It? by Julian Boote

Artists, writers, innovators, and fact creative and business people from all backgrounds; mostly those starting out, but even some with a level of experience in their field behind them, have at some point or another realized they've had misconceptions about what copyright is, how it works, for what types of creative work, and what it can do for them.

So, let's get started, and perhaps with the most obvious questions anyone may have about copyright; what is it, and why does it exist in the first place?

Let's start with the latter question first.

Why copyright exists

Imagine this scenario; you build a cottage, say, to your own design. It's a beautiful, Tudor-style, thatched roof affair, with a small, well-kept garden, and a breath-taking view of rolling, verdant green hills offering spectacular sunsets in the evening. Now imagine someone finds out about your unique, very attractive cottage one day, and moves in while you're out. You come home to suddenly find you can't get back in, and this squatter inside is claiming they own your house, that they built it even, and worse, they've started renting out the back bedroom for a pretty penny. To cap it all, they're now building duplicate cottages matching your design down the road to sell and earn even more money. Now imagine there was no law in existence to give you the opportunity to re-claim ownership of your property and no means to stop the usurper or win restitution from them for their actions.

Transfer this - admittedly crude - analogy to creativity, and that's why copyright exists.

I like how the Irish Patents Office(1) puts it on their website with regards the Nature of Copyright:

"First, persons who create works of the intellect or who invest in their creation and dissemination are entitled as a matter of human right to secure a fair return for their creativity and investment.

Secondly, unless the rights of creators and investors to a fair return are supported, the community as a whole would be impoverished by the fact that, in many cases, these works would not be created or developed."(2)

Our civilization progresses through creativity and innovation. But for creators to create, they need to eat, they need to live, earn money, receive recognition for their work and the stimulus to keep striving when the going gets tough. Copyright exists therefore to make this happen and help the innovators earn revenue from their creations. Copyright exists to promote creativity and help creative people live from their creativity. Copyright exists because it makes creative and business sense for copyright to exist.

If a writer earns money from their work, they can earn the funds to keep writing. If an artist earns money from the licensing and manufacturing of images of artwork, they have income so they can invest their time productively in more projects. Furthermore, copyright exists to encourage innovation and prosperity, for society as a whole as well as for the individual doing the innovating.

Take copyright away and you effectively tie the hands behind creatives' backs. Imagine a world culturally, creatively, industrially and economically deprived because its innovators weren't given the reward for - and the power to protect the use of - their endeavours.

With that in mind, lets put my cottage analogy into proper context now; you're a creative person, aren't you? Imagine every time you created something, someone could come along and copy it, claim it as their own and very likely make money from it, and without fear of consequences because there was no law making their actions punishable. You'd very soon give up creating wouldn't you? What'd be the point of all that hard work when others could reap the credit and the reward?

Fortunately for us, that's not how it is in the real world. Lets read again what the Irish Patents Office says; that it's a "...human right to secure a fair return for their creativity and investment." I say again, nicely put.

So that's why copyright exists.

But just what is copyright?

Copyright is...

If you consider my crude cottage analogy again; it essentially establishes what copyright is... a property right. But a property right that applies, not to land or buildings or vehicles, but to products of the human mind... of our intellect. Creative products, such as literary, dramatic, musical or artistic or filmic work.

And what can one do with this "intellectual property" right?

Well, copyright has some similar but also different entitlements to other forms of property right, specifically allowing the copyright owner (or owners) to:

copy, lend and distribute their work
license others (i.e. grant written permission) to use the copyright owner's work
adapt their work or licence others to do so (e.g. adapt a book into a movie)
sell their created work - their intellectual property - to others, and, importantly...
have powers to stop wrongful infringement of those rights by third parties, i.e. the copying and exploitation of the copyright owner's work without their permission, as well as...
obtain recompense in the form of compensation or damages for infringement where loss of revenue has been discovered.
This applies to a copyright owners work, whether or not it's been published, exhibited or otherwise released to the public for their consumption.
Not only this though...

Moral Rights in copyright

A creator and commissioner of a copyrighted work is also entitled under copyright to other rights relating to their work. Called "Moral Rights", these are:

the right to be identified as the author (or artist, or photographer, or composer, or director etc.), and to stop a work being falsely attributed to them
the right not to have their work subjected to derogatory treatment (alteration, re-arrangement or deletion) by others; "derogatory treatment" being where the resulting work is mutilated, distorted, and can damage the creator/authors reputation
the right to privacy when it comes to certain photographs and films (e.g. a commissioner of private photos has the right not to have them published or exhibited to the public where the photos become copyright works)

Here's some examples of these above three points:

I've asserted my moral right to be identified as the author of this article; a right I have under law to do so(3). Were this a fictional book, and it was adapted into a movie, I'd also have the right to be identified in the movie as the author of the source novel - unless you set aside the right. Conversely, Alan Moore, whose now legendary unhappiness at the treatment of adaptations of his graphic novels and how he feels they've reflected badly on his original work, has prompted him to demand his name be removed from the movies credits, such as Watchmen.

If for some reason, J K Rowlings Harry Potter series of books had been knowingly and deliberately credited as my work and not hers by someone else, both she and I could stop it, due to false attribution.(4)

If during the editing of this book, I'd felt a third party (an editor, a publisher or printer) had done a hatchet job on all my hard work, I could not only let it be known how unhappy I was with this mistreatment, but I'd have the right to stop it too.(5)

Finally, the photo-portraits of my significant other and I which we paid a professional photographer for, hang on the walls where we live... and nowhere else without our say-so.(6)

See how Moral Rights work?

Now I need to mention there are however exceptions to Moral Rights; they can't be asserted when copyrighted works are computer programs or computer-generated work (created without human intervention), or for a typeface design. Also, if the creator/author hasn't asserted their right to be identified as the creator/author if that right applies, the Moral Right hasn't been violated. In addition, if the creator/author works for an employer who does/will own the copyright of the work you produce, you will not have this right either (more on this "Work Made For Hire" later).

Who owns copyright

Now that we know the "what" and "why" of copyright, lets find out the "who"; just who this "copyright owner" I've mentioned is:

The copyright owner is the person or persons who created the work that is copyrighted.

You might well have guessed that already.

Under copyright law then, creatives are usually the first person(s) granted ownership of copyright over the work they've created, as outlined above.(7) So if you're someone who's created a copyrighted work, the rights of ownership to that copyrighted work belong to none other... than you.

Lets be clear about this; no-one else but you, the creator of the copyrighted work, has these rights; not your mum, your partner, not nice Mrs Miggins down the road. (Yes, not even her either.) They're yours and yours alone (unless the created work has been a collaborative effort).(8) Exclusively. Nor will those rights be anyone else's unless and until you as the rights owner (sometimes called "rights holder" too) grants permission of usage - licenses - or gives away/sells - assigns - those rights.

Sounds good doesn't it? Works for me.

Having said that though...

There's ownership and then there's Ownership

People can get the wrong end of the stick when they hear about copyright ownership, so I thought - now that'd I've identified what copyright ownership is - it'd be worth clarifying what it isn't.

Now where you live you have products like DVDs, books and CDs all over, and you own them, right? I mean you paid good money for them, right? Sure you did. So you're their owner.

But does that mean you own the copyright subsisting in those products?

No, of course you don't.

Its the author and/or the publisher/distributor who retains the copyright. There's a difference then to owning a copy of a copyrightable work, and owning the copyright of that work itself. If you're forking out cash for, say a CD, you're buying ownership of that CD copy of that recording artists album, not ownership of the master recordings themselves, nor the right to produce copies of the CD you purchased either.

If more than one author or creator has been involved in producing the work, then joint copyright ownership applies. Song writing partnerships are a classic example, wherein by virtue of having co-written a song, they each become the joint copyright owners.

Then there's being hired to produce some work.

Were you hired? Check your copyright

We have all been employees, and many of us have been hired as freelancers. And in that time I guarantee you, we put something together, wrote or drew something for our employer. Does this mean according to what I've outlined above that copyright became ours?

Not necessarily.

You see, if we prepared this work as part of the duties of our employment, or if it was commissioned from us, if we're part of team employed on a project, or if in fact, we're building something under a "work made for hire" agreement, then in all likelihood the copyright will be our employers, not ours.

So are you in employment right now and creating works the rights to which you assumed were yours? Then take a look at the employment contract you signed with your employer. There are likely to be provisions in there which cover this question of ownership. Or are you yourself commissioning work from others? Then look at the purchase orders you send out or agreements you sign. Are there clauses in the terms and conditions which cover intellectual property rights for people you hire, so that those rights are yours upon payment?

So there we are; that's what copyright is, its purpose, and who gets to use it.

To learn more about copyright, please see our resource box.


(1) Irish Patents Office - "Copyright - A brief history"
(2) Irish Patents Office - "Copyright - A brief history"
(3) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, sections 77-79.
(4) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, section 84
(5) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, sections 80-81
(6) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, section 85
(7) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter I, Subsistence, Ownership and Duration of Copyright, section 11.

(8) If more than one author or creator has been involved in producing the work, then joint copyright ownership applies. Song writing partnerships are a classic example, wherein by virtue of having co-written a song, they each become the joint copyright owners.

About the author Julian Boote.

Julian is the co-founder of duly noted® limited.

Are you worried about effectively proving when you created your intellectual property? Concerned you'd lose all your work in a worst case scenario?

We were too.

Being creative people ourselves, we'd learned over the years the value our work can have, the money it can earn, and the importance of copyright registration as an aid in the protection and validation of our ownership rights. We also learned (the hard way!) the need to back-up our work...just in case.

If you would like to learn a whole lot more about copyright, please visit

Monday, June 22, 2009

Use Copyright Free Music to Get More Value From Online Videos by Marlie Parsons

What is the connection between using copyright free music and getting more benefits from uploading videos to online video sharing sites such as YouTube? In a word, it's professionalism.

Most professional internet marketers know the value of posting videos on the Internet. There are multiple benefits. Even if nobody ever watches your video, if you include your website URL in the description of your video, this will be a valuable backlink to help drive traffic to your page because search engines tend to view video sharing sites, especially YouTube, as authority sites, on which backlinks are more heavily weighted.

Despite the value of these backlinks, posting a video that reflects badly on yourself of your business will not do you very much good in the long run. That is why, if you are going to upload a video that promotes your goods or services to prospective customers, you are doubtlessly going to want it to impress those prospects positively. Obviously, the better they feel about you and what you are selling, the more predisposed they are going to be to visit your site and do business with you.

Online videos are excellent examples of the old adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression. This is why including professional sounding background music as part of your video production will most likely to a long way toward influencing people in a positive way.

If you ever watch a movie on DVD or a TV commercial with the sound turned off, you know how important the audio component is to lend emotion and depth to the pictures on the screen. Leaving out this sound element is like cake without the icing or a hot dog without any mustard or ketchup. It seems incomplete.

Internet entrepreneurs who want to take full advantage of the potential of online videos know their productions need the full impact that background music provides, and there are several ways to obtain music without breaking the law and getting into trouble.

Of course, video sharing websites require that any video you upload must meet copyright requirements. If you use someone else's music without permission, you can not only get your video taken off, you could even get banned as well as facing potential lawsuits.

If money is no object, you could hire a producer and musicians to create custom background music, but for most people, this is simply too costly an option to be realistic. Many online companies are now selling copyright free music, but most of these are priced in the neighborhood of $10 per track or $50 per CD. Unless you are in the business full time, even this relatively low price can threaten to stretch the budgets of a lot of part-time internet marketers.

That is why anyone who is truly interested in benefiting from the value of using professional copyright free background music to enhance their videos is well advised to search carefully until a more affordable source of production music may be located.

Professional copyright free music priced at less than 5-cents a track is now available for instant download. For details go to

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Proper Way To Copyright Visual Arts Brian Johansson

If you are trying to register any type of visual arts you should follow the copyright process as explained here. Visual arts can generally be described as any pictorial, graphic, sculptural or architectural works. Including 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional fine, graphic and applied art. There are some architectural works that fall under visual arts, and depending on the medium of the art there may be parts of the exhibition that are not copyright protected. This includes pieces of art that may include working or moving parts or pre-existing parts such as furniture, clothing or machinery. Other works that fall under visual arts may include…..

· Two-Dimensional Works.

· Advertisements (pictorial).

· Artwork for bed, bath, and table linens or for wearing apparel (For example: heat transfers or decals already applied to T-shirts).

· Blueprints, architectural drawings, mechanical drawings, diagrams.

· Book jackets or record jackets.

· Commercial print
published in newspaper or other periodical.

· Commercial print or label (For example: flyers, labels, brochures, or catalogs used in connection with the sale of goods or services).

· Contributions to collective works (photographs, drawings, cartoons, etc., published as part of a periodical or anthology).

· Fabric, textile, wallpaper, carpeting, floor tile, wrapping paper, yard goods (If applied to a three-dimensional work, see below).

· Fabric emblems or patches, decals or heat transfers (not applied to clothing), bumper stickers, campaign buttons.

· Greeting cards, picture postcards, stationery, business cards, calendars.

· Holograms .

· Maps or cartographic material.

· Patterns, cross-stitch graphs, stitchery brochures, needlework and craft kits.

· Pictorial or graphic works (For example: artwork, drawings, illustrations, paintings).

· Pictorial or graphic works fixed only in machine-readable form .

· Posters, photographs, prints, brochures, exhibition catalogs.

· "Limited edition" posters, prints, or etchings (published in quantities of fewer than 5 copies, or 300 or fewer numbered copies if individual author is owner of copyright).

· Oversize material (exceeding 96" in any dimension).

· Three-Dimensional Works.

· Artwork or illustrations on 3-D objects (For example: artwork on plates, mugs).

· Fabric or textile attached to or part of a 3-D object (such as furniture).

· Games .

· Globes, relief models, or relief maps.

· Jewelry .

· Pictorial matter and/or text on a box or container that can be flattened (contents of container are not claimed).

· Prints or labels inseparable from a three-dimensional object (for example: silk screen label on a bottle).

· Sculptures, toys, dolls, molds, relief plaques, statues.

· Sculpture (for example: doll) in a box with copyrightable pictorial and/or textual material; claim in sculpture and artwork/text, oversize material (exceeding 96" in any dimension).

· Architectural Works include either unconstructed building s or constructed building s.

The second step is to put together a package including either a form VA, a check for $30 made out to the "Register of Copyrights" and a non-returnable copy of the materials that are being registered. The form VA can be obtained at the copyright offices website at under the visual arts tab. Depending on what medium your work is there are different requirements for the deposit materials. Obviously if you are registering a building they will accept a photograph of the building but they may also require drawings, plans or other supplemental material. You should research the particular medium that you are trying to register at the copyright listed above.

Find out more great information about copyright protection at

Monday, June 8, 2009

EFF Launches 'Teaching Copyright' to Correct Entertainment Industry Misinformation

As the entertainment industry promotes its new anti-copying educational program to the nation's teachers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched its own "Teaching Copyright" curriculum and website to help educators give students the real story about their digital rights and responsibilities on the Internet and beyond.

The Copyright Alliance -- backed by the recording, broadcast, and software industries -- has given its curriculum the ominous title "Think First, Copy Later." This is just the latest example of copyright-focused educational materials portraying the use of new technology as a high-risk behavior. For example, industry materials have routinely compared downloading music to stealing a bicycle, even though many downloads are lawful, and making videos using short clips from other sources is treated as probably illegal even though many such videos are also lawful. EFF created Teaching Copyright as a balanced curriculum encouraging students to make full and fair use of technology that is revolutionizing learning and the exchange of information.

"Today's tech-savvy teens will grow into the artists and innovators of tomorrow," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "They need to understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world."

The Teaching Copyright curriculum is a detailed, customizable plan that connects students to contemporary issues related to the Internet and technology. Teaching Copyright invites discussion about how creativity is enabled by new technologies, what digital rights and responsibilities exist or should exist, and what roles students play as users of technology. The website at includes guides to copyright law, including fair use and the public domain.

"Kids are bombarded with messages that using new technology is illegal," said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. "Instead of approaching the issues from a position of fear, Teaching Copyright encourages inquiry and greater understanding. This is a balanced curriculum, asking students to think about their role in the online world and to make informed choices about their behavior."

The Teaching Copyright curriculum was developed with the input of educators from across the U.S. and has been designed to satisfy components of standards from the International Society for Technology in Education and the California State Board of Education.

Learn more about Teaching Copyright:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Copyright Alliance Launches New Educational Foundation

The Copyright Alliance, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to the value of copyright as an agent for creativity, jobs and growth, today launched the Copyright Alliance Education Foundation ( The new charitable arm of the Alliance will develop educational programs aimed at helping America's next generation of creators succeed.

The Foundation announced its first projects, already underway: development and distribution of a copyright curriculum for educators; and a partnership with the West Potomac Academy of Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, to refine Alliance curriculum materials and supplement them with information important to arts education.

"Our nation has reaped the rewards both culturally and economically of the principle and practice of copyright," said Patrick Ross, Copyright Alliance Executive Director. "This system has served us well for centuries - so much so, that it has become an invisible underpinning in our country's prosperity. Now, as a new generation of creators populates today's classrooms, we must ensure that principle is not taken for granted and continues to be a foundation for creative success."

The Foundation will develop and implement educational projects designed to meet two goals. 1) Help maintain a copyright-aware environment in the nation's classrooms to ensure creators' long-term ability to thrive. 2) Provide educational resources to future creators.

The Alliance has developed a pilot curriculum for teachers, "Think First, Copy Later," a comprehensive multi-faceted program designed to help librarians and media specialists answer questions and provide information about copyright in the classroom to other educators. The materials were distributed to 5,000 librarians and media specialists this spring to gauge usefulness.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vicarious Copyright Infringement - Who is Controlling Who? by Brian A. Hall

Many are familiar with the claim of direct copyright infringement. In fact, people may also be aware of the indirect claim for contributory copyright infringement. However, a cause of action that is overlooked at times and one that should be considered where appropriate is worth discussing. A claim for vicarious copyright infringement requires three elements.

First, there must be a direct infringement by a primary party. This first element essentially requires that a valid direct copyright infringement action exists. Put another way, there must be allegations that the plaintiff owns a valid copyright and that the defendant has copied that copyright.

Second, there must be a direct financial benefit to the defendant. Such things as additional customers, increased revenue, or an increase in user base is likely to satisfy the second element. Third, and finally, is the right and ability to supervise the primary infringer on the part of defendant.

This third element really comes down to control. Similar to an employer-employee relationship, a court will evaluate the extent of control that the alleged vicarious infringer has over the primary infringer. Such things as directing actions, monitoring conduct or performance, and the ability to prevent a particular type of action will help dictate whether or not sufficient control exists so as to establish the claim.

Ultimately, understanding the copyright ownership, who uses the copyright, who derives benefit from the copyright, and other potential parties affected by the copyright will be critical in determining whether or not a valid claim for vicarious copyright infringement exists.

Brian A. Hall is an attorney and partner of Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm specializing in complex litigation, intellectual property matters, internet law, and copyright registration and copyright infringement matters. Speak with a copyright attorney today and learn more about the importance of understanding the intricacies of vicarious copyright infringement and other copyright issues.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Copyright For Artists by John A Burton

What can be copyright protected?

Copyright protection applies to literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, plus a few other creative activities. Artistic works include paintings, drawings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, technical drawings, diagrams, maps and logos, etc.

In order to attract copyright protection, artwork must be "original". This means it must be the result of independent creative effort.

A copy of something that already exists cannot be original, but if an artwork is similar to something that already exists, but which has not been copied, then it may be original (*).

Copyright does not protect ideas for an artwork: it is only the work itself that is protected. If you have created an "original work", you will have copyright protection without having to do anything to establish this. In the United Kingdom (and most other parts of the world), there is no official registration system for copyright.

For artistic works, in the UK, the term of protection of copyright is - for the life of the creator, plus 70 years from the end of the year in which they die.

What is the benefit of copyright protection?

Copyright protected work must not be reproduce in another medium without the owner's permission. This includes activities such as photocopying images, using images for cross-stitch patterns, painting from a photograph, publishing images on the Internet, and so on.

Copyright should stop others from using your work without your permission. The existence of copyright may be enough to prevent others from to using your material, but it also gives you the right to take legal action to stop misuse, and to claim damages.

Copyright owners generally have the right to authorise or prohibit the use of their work, and so realise the opportunity to make commercial gain from the use of their work. You could, for example, sell or license your copyrighted images for use by others.

(*) For the artist, copyright is a double-edged sword. Painters in particular should avoid breaching copyright when working from photographs. In the case of landscapes, it would be difficult to prove breach of copyright, since many scenic locations are generally accessible to the public. But with celebrity portraits, the artist should proceed with caution; it would be impossible for most artists to have a celebrity sit for them, and therefore it is easier for a copyright holder to prove that their photograph has been copied.

Using copyright protection

There are a number of steps Artists should take to help protect their work, especially if it is published on the Internet. It is advisable to mark all work with the © symbol. This lets others know they should not use the artist's work without permission. The © symbol should have the name of the copyright owner next to it. This helps anyone wishing to use the artwork to trace the copyright holder. If you also put the year in which the work was created next to the © symbol, this will let others know when the term of protection started.

If your artwork is published on the Internet, there are a number of safeguards you should consider. These will be the subject of further articles.

Portraits by John Burton

Friday, May 22, 2009

Why Fans Are the New Music Copyright by Mika Libambu Schiller

Singer-songwriter Cat Stevens says he may sue Coldplay. Did you hear about this? He said that his son brought it to his attention that "Viva La Vida" sounds like his 1973 song "Foreigner's Suite" and that he might consider suing for plagiarism.

But first, he wants to wait and see what happens with U.S guitarist Joe Satriani who has already sued Coldplay for copyrights infringement. Satriani says parts of his song "If I could fly" were recycled in "Viva La Vida".

What do you think about all this? I think it's idiotic. The music business of the last several decades has been the biggest property protection scheme of all time. The industry became synonymous with the word lawyer. You were instructed to copyright every single composition because it mattered a great deal to your CD sales.

Now, indie musicians know they can't protect their music. The rules have changed dramatically. Cat Stevens must know this; that's why he's eagerly awaiting the Satriani verdict.

I used to know a music lawyer at the firm of Selverne, Mandelbaum and Mintz in New York. He thought he was the shit until he lost his job early this year because the firm's struggling to find work. This is a firm that has represented Ludacris, Nelly and Cassie. The walls in their waiting room were festooned with awards and plaques when I was in there several years ago. But now this dude's out of a job. It's when shit like this goes down that I know the traditional record industry is screwed.

The last thing an indie music artist in this day and age really needs is to be losing sleep over protecting intellectual property. I'm not saying you should let people rip your songs word for word(that rarely happens anyway). I'm just saying, times have changed and you have very little control over what happens to your intellectual property these days.

As a result, instead of being in a constant protectionist mindset when it comes to your music, you should be focusing mostly on collecting what's called mindshare. It's the best way to protect yourself and compete.

Media futurist Seth Godin writes on his blog about the elements of a business model. They are:

1. What compelling reason exists for people to give you money? (or votes or donations)

2. How do you acquire what you're selling for less than it costs to sell it?

3. What structural insulation do you have from relentless commoditization and a price war?

4. How will strangers find out about the business and decide to become customers?

All four of these will always be relevant to any business no matter the era. Business is business. It's just the form each takes that changes with the times. All of these are also highly relevant to the music business.

Number three is important because that's where mindshare fits in. And that matters to you right now. If you want to copyright all of your intellectual property, that's fine, but all I'm going to say is good luck with that. The labels have all been there before and failed.

The way you protect yourself now isn't by copyrighting and suing the hell out of people. It's by building a network that's difficult for someone else to disrupt. Personal branding is an important aspect of all this. We live in an age of personal branding. We also live in an age where it's hard to persuade people with soulless sloganeering. People want stories to be convinced. They want you to persuade them with your stories, not your sound bites.

Music is no different. People want to feel like you're with them. Like you're a good friend. Not hiding behind a wall of legalese.

Thing is, once people are loyal to you, it's hard for someone else to come in and take them from you. Once you've made people loyal to you, you've captured mindshare. It's how you protect yourself from competition. And it's powerful. Because in this day and age, marketing is largely about storytelling, there are many ways to capture mindshare.

Suing people doesn't work anymore. It just pisses people off.

Mika Schiller is a writer for the Indie music website MADE and he writes about where the music industry's headed and how it relates to the Independent Music artist. He gives irreverent career and personal development advice to the Indie music artist. For more great writing and irresistible advice, along with a free report on effective MySpace music marketing, please visit