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.