Hi everybody! I haven't been here for awhile but this intrigued me enough to ask a question after reading Emma J's post.
For those of you who actually write out patterns for sale, have you ever considered creating a "poor mans copyright" (sending the pattern to yourself) or submitting your designs for a proper copyright and have them listed in the Library of Congress? At least if there is a question of infringement there would be proof of your claim. Can patterns be protected in this manner? I'm not really sure but the question came up here at home because my family writes and produces music and songs and stuff and that is done all the time. We would do a poor man's copyright for individual pieces and them do a formal copyright of the collection (or compilation) I kind of figured that a series of patterns woud be considered a "compilation". Just curious because I was planning on making some patterns myself. Lawyer's input please!!
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Nice post. Keep posting.
curious to know the answer to this as well! I've read the other threads regarding copywrite, but would definitely want to know this.
You might want to rethink the "poor Mans Copyright". I would registered individual songs. You can read about the "poor man Copyright" from the link provided.
Good luck on your patterns. Just remember that stitches (ie peyote, RAW, etc) cannot be copyrighted.
Everyday I see other designers work being sold as someone elses. It is a never ending battle. There is a crazy lady on you tube stating that once you buy a pattern, magazine, etc. you can what you want with it. it is yours. She is a nut case. She was referring to a Crafting beading magazine, granted not a popular one but still a published one.
If you sell something to public, does it mean you lose all the rights to it? Once you get money for it? I do not try to argue - just a curiosity. Once I sell the pattern, I cannot protect it anymore - just to hope to be credited as an author...
If you are on a budget, the Poor Man's Copyright will work. I was married to a songwriter for 15 years. The main things to remember, are to completely describe your pattern. with diagrams if possible, and put an actual piece of your work in a #10 envelope. Seal it, and make sure you have your name, address, and ph # both on the pattern sheet and at the bottom you should write that you, and you alone are the sole designer of this pattern, and sign it. ...Where were we? OK put your own address on the upper left of the envelope, and address the envelope to yourself just as you did on upper left. I would take it to the post office, and ask that THEY put the proper postage on with their meter, and postmark it for you. Then when it comes back to you, in the mail...NEVER OPEN IT! If in the future someone tries to claim it is their own, you have the proof of the unopen, postmarked envelope, and contents. There is NEVER a reason to EVER open it. Just leave it in your file cabinet forever!
It does work. The cost of doing a proper copyright, is quite expensive for a jewelry pattern. With songwriting it is especially great when you do not have the money, to protect yourself this way. Because just one song every time it plays on the radio, itunes, or anywhere else makes millions, and millions, of dollars. My now ex husband still has all of his files from the early days, still unopened, still protected. Now he does it the expensive way, but for us, who, love to design, and enjoy, this would be truly fine. If I had not done it successfully, with millions of dollars worth of songs, I would not lead you astray. Protect your talent. Hope this helped!
OH!!! I forgot! If you publish your pattern, or send it out in the world to be seen...you are allowed to do the little copyright trademark...you know the small c with a circle around it? Put it at the bottom left of any pattern you have protected, BEFORE you send it out into the public. It acts sort of like a warning to others who may try to claim your design. Sort of like having a guard dog at your home, or a security company sticker on the window of your home. Just makes crooks think twice before choosing you :)
Have a great day, and make some fabulous jewelry!
While I cannot give you specific advice for your case, here is an article I wrote in October of 2011 that may help provide some guidance. Please see "Copyright for Artists - Myths and Facts" at http://kennethgray.com/64/copyright-artists-myths-fact/. The important part is:
3. I can protect my work by putting it in an envelope and mailing it to myself via registered mail. Myth.
This is the so-called “poor man’s copyright”. It is a half-measure try at copyright registration that holds absolutely no legal weight whatsoever. From the U.S. Copyright Office, “There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.”
All original, copyrightable works gain copyright when fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Registering a copyright is a prerequisite to accessing the courts, statutory damages, and so on, but it is not required to gain copyright. Basically, if a work is valuable or needs to be protected, by all means, register. However, lack of registration does not mean lack of copyright. Just keep in mind that when a dispute arises over ownership or creation, sealed letters, testimony from Aunt Bessie and the like are not a substitute for the real thing.
Unfortunately, the "poor man's copyright" is often portrayed as a substitute for copyright, which it is not. It is also portrayed as an important evidentiary act of creation, which it isn't. At best, mailing work to onesself may be allowed show evidence of creation, but so would something like a datestamp on a computer file, a timestamped recorded video, email records, etc, ... It can also be disputed. In other words, it would be nothing more than one out of many pieces of potential evidence showing time of creation. Additionally, keep in mind that just because someone mailed something to themselves, it doesn't mean they created it. I can mail a manuscript of War and Peace to myself as much as I want, it doesn't mean that I was the original author.
If you are unsure about the registration status of your work or you suspect that your work my be infringed upon, I would recommend that you seek the advice of a licensed Attorney.
If I put a crown on my head, it doesn't make me the Queen of England. Likewise putting a circled C on your design doesn't grant you a copyright or the protection it brings.
The copyright symbol only works to protect something on which you actually have a registered copyright. Since the people who violate a copyright by stealing someone else's ideas often don't see what they are doing as theft, a fake copyright symbol is not likely to deter them. If you have a genuine copyright, you can enforce it but a judge will laugh at you if you try to enforce a non-legitimate copyright. If your design is worth protecting, it's worth protecting properly.
Having a fair amount of experience in the legal arena (including being my own attorney, doing legal research, filing, and kicking a licensed attorney's butt for years in the courtroom), I'm sorry to inform you, but the "poor man's copyright" is legal, and it is not "fake". While there are fewer and fewer "real" things in this life that are not quite costly, fortunately for the artist who is just getting his/her feet wet, the right to protect their own creations is not one of them. Of course, the attorneys out there who charge huge fees to "help" one to copright their material will perpetuate the myth that if you don't spend a ton of money on it, then it can't be legal or "real", and would prefer that none of us learn about this precious little fact. Nonetheless, it is just that -fact -the "poor man's copyright" is legal, and real, as real as the one that costs one an arm and a leg -things that many of us have already given up for the sake of survival in the current economic climate.
Hope this helps those searching for the facts.
Not sure where your confusion comes from. One of the important skills required to do legal research and represent yourself is the ability to understand what you are reading.
If you read my post, you would realize that I was responding to a previous poster's suggestion to just put the circled "c" on your work in the hopes of making people think you had gone through the process and actually obtained a copyright. I did not refer to the so-called 'poor-man's copyright' as being fake at any point.
The © symbol only provides you with copyright protection IF it is backed up by a real, approved copyright. If you use the symbol without the proper approval, it is fake and invalid.
Having a fair amount of experience in the
legal field, which is working as an attorney for over 12 years and
having an actual law degree from an accredited school, I can tell how
wrong number of you are about a number of things. First, some little victory in a
courtroom doesn't make you an experienced attorney (that goes to Ninib); years of law school and even more years of working experience will. Second, poor man's copyright is a non-existent thing and doesn't protect anybody from anything. If I mailed a copy of "War and Peace" to myself, that wouldn't be any valid proof that I wrote it. Third, filing for registration of copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office does not cost a fortune. Filing and defending a copyright claim, should you fail to protect yourself beforehand, might.
A note to the moderators of this forum - yesterday my husband, who is a copyright attorney, did post a reply here. However, it was never published. Why do you approve comments from self-proclaimed attorneys and don't approve them from actual specialists? Seems very unprofessional to me.
Thanks, Anna, for clarifying that. It's always good to hear from people who can speak with legitimate authority.
Anna, I am not a moderator, but I can tell you from my own experience, that it wasn't anything personal if the reply was sent to moderation. If you have any hyperlinked sites listed in the post it will automatically go to moderation.
We, that have been around for a while have learned not to hyperlink in our posts. You may get away with one hyperlink, but if you have more it will surely go to moderation, and may never be seen again.
I wish you husbands reply had not gone to moderation, because I myself would have loved to have seen it.
Sue, thanks for your reply! Of course my husband's post had a link in it; it was a link to his blog where he has a relevant article on copyright issue in arts and crafts. It is, indeed, a good article; he was offered to do a few public speeches on the topic after posting it. However, thanks to the moderation, on Beading Daily nobody got their free chance to educate themselves.
The reason for the moderation when one posts links is because, in the resent past we have had a huge problem with spam posts. You know the ones that want to sell you the latest tennis shoe, or the worst offender, the one that talks about THE male problem and try to sell you the latest medicine that will give wonderful results. Unfortunately this action has worked in the reverse for all the wonderful links that are provided by our members, that are beneficial to us as beaders. But, we have found that as long as you don't hyperlink the the site, it will not go to moderation.
He can post the link, just don't make it a live link. Everyone that cares to read it can do a copy and paste.
Please post his link so I, for one can read what he has to say. I am sure it would be more useful than most things I have heard though the years.
Thanks in advance, and Happy Beading!!