How Do You Copywrite a Publication?
Written work is automatically copyrighted when created. You can
thus use the (C) symbol right away. Even if you don't put that little
(C) on your work, you automatically own the copyright the instant
your work of expression becomes fixed in a tangible medium.
In cyberspace and for the most part, once an expression is
entered into a computer in a form that can be read on screen, it
is considered fixed in a tangible medium, even if it is never
printed out or saved to a disk.
While a copyright notice -- that little (C) followed by the year
and the author's name -- is not required, it is recommended in
order to remind people that the author claims a copyright, which
helps to deter would-be plagiarists. When a (C) symbol is seen,
people are often psychologically compelled not to copy.
There is a new statute in the United States, however, that
affects new mediums -- similar ones in Canada and the UK
have also been recently implemented. It's called the "Digital
Millennium Copyright Act of 1998," signed by the President on
October 28, 1998, and it addresses a number of copyright issues
created by the increasing use of the Internet for commerce in
materials protected by copyright (such as software, Web sites,
In fact, the UK was the leader in this regard with the
"Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act of 1988," in which section
17 refers to electronic copyright specifically. But whether new
laws are implemented or not, the Internet is still subject to the
century-old "Berne Convention," which states that most copyright
laws (be it old or new) are enforceable all over the world.
Your best bet, of course, is to register your creative work. If
someone ever plagiarizes you, it is not only easy for you to
prove that this work is your own but it also gives you legal
wherewithal to sue for damages and losses.
You can register your copyright by filing a simple form and
depositing one or two samples of the work with the U.S. Copyright
Office. To obtain forms, instructions, or the location of the
Copyright Office in your state, you can call the U.S. Copyright
Office by telephone at (202) 707-9100, or visit them online at
In Canada, you can register with the Canadian Copyright Office,
Copyright and Industrial Design Branch, Place du Portage, Tower
1, 50 Victoria Street, 5th floor, Hull, Quebec, K1A OC9. You can
also visit http://www.pch.gc.ca/.
In the UK, it's the Registry of Copyright, the Registrar,
Stationers' Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London, EC4M 7DD. Their phone
number is 0171-248-2934 (more information can be found at
Currently, in the US registration costs $20 per work. If you're
registering several works that are part of one series, you may be
able to save money by registering the works together (called
"group registration"), such as an e-zine or Web site in which
content continually changes.
By the way, I'm not a lawyer so please do not consider this as
legal advice. However, most of the information I gave you (and
more) can be found at:
Copyright © 2002 Michel Fortin - All rights reserved
Michel Fortin is a copywriter, author and consultant dedicated to turning businesses into powerful magnets. His specialty are direct response, long copy, email and web sales letters. Get a free copy of his ebook, "The Ten Commandments of Power Positioning," and subscribe to his free monthly email newsletter, "The Profit Pill," by visiting SuccessDoctor.com/!
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