TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Computer rights From:"Martin, Chuck" <chuckm -at- EVOLVESOFTWARE -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 16 Dec 1997 12:18:16 -0800
On Tuesday, December 16, 1997 12:15 PM, Smokey Lynne L Bare
[SMTP:slbare -at- JUNO -dot- COM] wrote:
> Any publication of a work (before it is protected under the copyright
> makes it *public domain*. This means both sending it out on the
> copying it for people to read on paper. (Case in point - copy
> in libraries.) The correct thing to do is to put a Copyright notice
> the work EACH and EVERY time it is published.
U.S. Copyright law gives copyright to any expression of an idea once it
is expressed in a tangible form. You do not need to register to obtain
copyright. You do not even need to provide the copyright information on
That said, adding the copyright information does offer certain legal
advantages, as does registering. I forget all the details, but I know
that not registering means that you cannot collect any more than actual
damages through legal action against a copyright infringer.
One of the best books I have ever read that covers this issue is "The
Business of Being a Writer," by Stephen Goldin and Kathleen Sky (ISBN
0060149779). (According to Amazon.com, this book is out of print and
hard to find.)
Works enter the public domain only under very specific conditions. For
example, anonymous works enter the public domain 50 years after their
first publication date. But the simple act of publishing--in any
"tangible" form--grants copyright to the work.
True, the Internet has complicated things somewhat. But the basics are
still the same. And although the Internet is a world-wide phenomenon,
the Berne Convention puts in place similar copyright rules for all
"You don't look American."
"Everyone looks American, because Americans are from everywhere."
Chuck Martin, Technical Writer
Evolve Software | Personal
chuckm -at- evolvesoftware -dot- com | writer -at- grin -dot- net
www.evolvesoftware.com | www.grin.net/~writer