Author Topic: Should a writer obtain copyrights?  (Read 2323 times)

Offline Matt

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Should a writer obtain copyrights?
« on: February 08, 2006, 12:40:54 PM »
Before sending a manuscript to a potential publisher, should I have copyrights for my work, for my own protection? I'd hate to have someone steal my work, that I worked so hard on.


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Re: Should a writer obtain copyrights?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2006, 01:28:15 PM »

You owned the copyright the minute you wrote the material. It will be date stamped on your PC files.
Publishers are not interested in stealing your work. It looks very amateur if you go plastering copyright symbols etc all over your submissions.


Offline Nick

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Re: Should a writer obtain copyrights?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2006, 01:52:36 PM »
I'd agree with Suzie. By international convention, any original piece of writing is automatically protected by copyright. There is no need to pay anything extra to secure it.

Some companies do offer to register your copyright, but all this really means is that they keep a dated record that you are the copyright owner, which you can refer to if a dispute ever arises. No company can sell you the copyright in your own work - you own it already.

Check out my writing blog at I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

Offline Mark with a k

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Re: Should a writer obtain copyrights?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2006, 07:41:41 PM »
Copyright arises the very second you create a work that's within the scope of the protection afforded by copyright statutes. The notion of someone stealing your work is a little more complex. Naturally, if you were to submit a work and that work subsequently appeared, letter for letter, in print and was attributed to a different author, then the matter would be in little doubt. The rights you enjoy as the owner of the copyrighted work would have been infringed. This is not a very likely scenario though.

Though the work you have created is copyrighted material, the idea behind it isn't. Your work is the expression of the idea that underpins it. When a supposedly infringing work comes to your attention, it falls to a court to decide whether your rights have been infringed if you can't sort it out with a friendly chat or a bit of good, old fashioned five-knuckle-feedback. A fundamental element of any case for infringement is that a substantial part of the copyrighted work has been used without its author's permission. There are exceptions, but let's not worry about those. A substantial part doesn't mean 35,001 words of a 70,000 word work. A relatively small piece of a work may in certain circumstances constitute a substantial part.

The good news is that despite the fact it's perishable, your copyright survives you. Seventy years after you die, your estate finally looses its grip and that devious git you sent it to over 100 years (or lets hope, more) ago hoping to get it published can plaster it all over the interstellar internet with no fear of prosecution. Maybe.

There's a story. An author asserts his moral and economic rights from beyond the grave to keep the woman he loved from becoming destitute. An idea anyone can make off with.

I wish you luck with your writing. If copyright sound a bit on the dull side, try patents!