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Questions regarding online copyright (help!) 
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Post Questions regarding online copyright (help!)
I know very little about the legal issues surrounding publishing. My only real publishing experience comes from newspapers, and even of those I know little.

Lately I've been trying to discipline myself into developing a regular fiction/non-fiction writing schedule. I've always written, but now I'm trying to be more serious about it. My solution was a blog (www.watchyoureyes.blogspot.com ... the link is also in my signature) in which I regularly post my writing. So far so good. But here's where I get confused: I don't have any copyright policy written on my blog, and I don't know if I need one. Am I opening myself up to grand theft/plagiarism? Or are blogs like mine already protected? All of the material is original, and almost none of it is published in any form. I like to think of it as a semi-polished digital notebook.

I've looked up things like Creative Commons licenses, but I can't tell if they're necessary or fruitless. Anyway, it seems like many of you have some experience in publishing, and i would greatly appreciate some advice on the matter. As I'm sure you can tell, I know very little about this, and so far my attempts at research have done more to confuse me, rather than enlighten me.


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Check out my fiction blog/online notebook, Watch Your Eyes


Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:26 pm
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Post Re: Questions regarding online copyright (help!)
The way copyright works is simple, both for online and offline work. It goes like this:

As soon as you write it, it belongs to you. It is automatically copyrighted to you. No one is supposed to be able to use it or steal it without your permission. However, if someone does, you'll have to be able to prove that you wrote it, so it is a good idea to save anything you write on your computer in a dated file. Make sure you keep backups. This is the best proof of authorship you can have in the current e-universe for blog-length material. Save your daily postings in a document file that you can write-protect so it can't be altered, and the embedded date in the file with show exactly when it was written. Make sure your word processing program is embedding your name in the file as the author as well when it is created. Also save all your hand-written notes, as a plagiarizer will almost certainly never possess such things.

Now, if you want to go after someone who stole your work and pursue monetary damages, that can be trickier. First, they have to have made some money off it in some way that can be clearly shown, because you can only sue for the amount that they made and not a penny more, (as I understand it). If you don't want money, you can pursue it so that the usurper is forced to include your name with the material as the orginal author.

Second, if you are going to pursue your rights as the author for monetary return, you will have needed to have first filed an official copyright with the Library of Congress Copyright office. The fee is $50 American, so it's not really worth copyrighting for quick little blog posts. If you are going to e-publish a full length novel, either fiction or non-fiction, then you definitely want to invest in a library of congress copyright first.

One final caveat, you can only copyright words, not ideas. Your ownership is of the words you use in the execution of your writing. Anyone else can use an idea if they write their own story around it. A case in point is the lady who claimed to have had the idea for the Matrix storyline before the Wachowski Brothers made their own scripts around the similar idea. Her lawsuit against them got her nothing.



The following user would like to thank DamianLake for this post:
BretAM5
Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:16 pm
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Almost Comfortable


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Post Re: Questions regarding online copyright (help!)
Thanks for the detailed answer, DamianLake. I do keep everything backed up, in handwritten and electronic form, so that's a load off my mind.


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Check out my fiction blog/online notebook, Watch Your Eyes


Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:13 pm
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