Copyrights Protection in Two Parts

Thanks to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 167 countries of the world share in standardized rules for authors and artists to acquire their rights. In all of these countries, a creator immediately possesses all copyrights from the moment of creation. No action or registration is necessary in order to possess these rights, but unfortunately the issue is not entirely resolved.

 

There are two challenges of copyrights protection:

  1. Proving you are the creator
  2. Pursuing infringers of your work

Proving creation of the work is all that is needed to prove ownership, but it is not always an easy task. By publishing your work, or registering it with a copyright office you gain excellent evidence of creation; however, you may not always want to reveal your work to the world or pay for registration upfront. In these circumstances, artists have often employed the “poor man’s copyright” of mailing themselves a copy of their work and leaving the envelope sealed. The postal service’s mark made the sealed envelope legally provable as having existed at the time of the postmark, and so its contents could be proven authentic and original. Today, there is a new alternative, a trusted timestamp authority. For less than postage, an audited digital authority can give you a digital seal for your file over the internet in less than second. The seal is a digital file easy to duplicate and store with the work wherever you please.

 

Pursuing infringers of your work is more difficult. The first step should be contacting the offender to let them know they are infringing on your rights in a clear but polite manner. If they do not respond favorably, registering the infringed work with the Copyright Office must be performed in order to employ state resources in your pursuit of the infringer. This is an important time to have strong evidence supporting your claim to creation, and thus rights ownership. Publication in your name, previous registration, or the witness of an audited third-party is of great value. After you have the government’s backing through registration you must pursue the infringer directly through the courts or attempt to enlist the help of law enforcement.

 

Further Reading:

Thoughts of the U.S. Copyright Office