RE: Copyright issue

Subject: RE: Copyright issue
From: "John Locke" <mail -at- freelock -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 09:50:38 -0700

Cameron Consulting asks,

> My books get updated every 6 months to a year to change with the
> technology.
> How would you recommend that I handle copyright issues? I have researched
> copyright quite a bit. Since I am not paid to write the books I retain
> copyright ownership (instead of - if I was paid to write them,
> whoever pays
> me retains copyright ownership). Is there a copyright that can be used and
> reused on the same title even though it's been updated with a different
> version number?

There's actually two different kinds of copyrights: registered, and

Any creative work is automatically copyrighted whenever you create it. You
can give away or sell the copyright using just about any terms you like,
though there are conventions for different media (First serial rights,
digital rights, movie rights, etc.). You can license use of your copyright,
again limited mainly by your imagination and what you can get your audience
to agree to...

Whatever derivative works you create, again are automatically copyrighted
when you create it. You don't have to list a copyright date, or a symbol, or

However, an unregistered copyright has no teeth. You can take somebody to
court for copyright infringement, but the courts have not been granting any
remuneration unless you have registered the copyright with the copyright

Registered copyrights have much more teeth. You pay a fee to the copyright
office, and submit the work in its finished form. Then the copyright office
has a benchmark copy that can be used in court to pursue a claim. You must
register your subsequent versions to obtain copyright protection for those

So that's an answer to your question, but probably doesn't tell you what you
need to know.

Are you publishing this book as a part of the open source movement? What
media are you using? Do you really care if somebody copies your material?
Are you hoping to sell it somewhere later? Is someone likely to reuse your
material without your permission? These are the questions that may help you
determine whether you want to register your material with the copyright

If you're hoping to sell your stuff to a publisher, I'd probably wait to
register it unless you don't trust them--unpublished work generally commands
a higher rate. If not, I'd probably go ahead and register your copyright,
and then you're protected. But, depending on the subject matter, it may not
be worth the effort...

I'm not a lawyer, though, and if you're really concerned about this stuff,
you should speak with one. You might also check out the articles at

John Locke

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Copyright issue: From: Cameron Consulting

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