Subject: Copyrights
From: "TrishGreen" <TrishGreen -at- austin -dot- rr -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 18:12:33 -0600

Okay, time to put "paid" to this thread (if that's even possible).

First, I have registered copyrights several times which doesn't make me an
expert, but does give me a little bit of experience procedurally. (My
crappy memory notwithstanding.) My experience is only within US boundaries,
however, so I can't speak to international copyrights or those laws specific
to other countries. Most of the developed countries adhere to the Berne
Convention, but each has amendments and deletions to that standard.

Second, I *did* misinform you about the duration of a copyright -- it
changed in 1978 and is now the author's lifetime plus fifty years. So you
don't have to renew once a decade. I apologize for that bit if
misinformation. (I can't even recall where I got that idea. I've been
looking over all my copyright paperwork from the last document I registered
and it sure isn't in there. I must be getting senile.)

Third, the point of mailing yourself your document is to provide proof of
the date of publication. For many documents, It would be very difficult to
prove (sans official registration) that YOU produced said document before
the next guy. Because it is a federal offense (a felony) to screw with
someone else's mail, mailing yourself the document and then not opening it
accomplishes two legal things: (1) it makes the contents YOURS (it's
addressed to you); and (2) it proves the date via the official postmark.
Such proof has been used in legal disputes in the past, and it holds up.

Fourth, you don't need to register a copyright with the copyright office,
UNLESS you feel your copyright has been infringed. To sue, the copyright
must have been registered. (You can do this right before you file your suit
and it's okay.) Furthermore, the copyright office doesn't require that you
place a copyright symbol on your stuff, but you can whether it's registered
or not, and it is recommended by the copyright office.

Fifth, documents written as "work-for-hire" automatically belong to whatever
entity hired the writer, not the writer.

Last, I scoured the net to find a comprehensive legal resource for US
copyright precedent and law. Here's the link that covers it all. It even
includes statute numbers and "fair use" definitions.

'Nuff said (by me at least). I will now retreat back into my hole.

Trish Green
Malachite Finch Publishing, Ltd.

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