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I just learned of this and feel that I should share it so here it goes.

Technically, at least in the USA, if you make an original item or object it is yours. So, for example, if I make a skin or a painting it is technically copyrighted under my name and I own it.


But how do you prove it? That is when the US Post office comes in.


If you want to save something for a possible court day with the offending party, all you have to do is put it in a self addressed stamped envelope. (make sure the postmaster STAMPS the envelope. some postal workers are actually nice and they might not stamp it because the envelope is going in a circle to yourself)

Once you receive your stamped envelope you keep it in a safe place never opening it. (Until that fateful day when you need it)


there it is! You have now proof of when YOU created the item and a seal from the US Postal service of that item.

For computer items just send yourself a self addressed envelope with the disk of CD of your images, skins, walls, whatever and your done. In fact make 2 copies (or more if needed) and send it to yourself. That way if you have to open one you still have others.





I am in the process of re-updating my website and in it will be helpful tips like this for those who wish to research and read it. You can browse through it now if you wish until I can update it with more info (Once I get my new computer I can actually get to work)


http://joetheblow.modblog.com
http://joetheblow.joeuser.com
http://jtb-development.joeuser.com

Also at the link provided as well.

What do you think? Any one know of this way to copyright something?
Comments (Page 1)
on Jan 10, 2004
about your site....how does one register and obtain a sign-in
on Jan 10, 2004
I've heard of this way, yeah. Seems valid.
on Jan 10, 2004
This is not an actual way of copyrighting something, at least in the United States. It MAY be, and in fact HAS been accepted as prima facie evidence of the date of creation of a work, or of the authorship or ownership in several state and federal court cases regarding disputed claims to copyright.

The very simplified truth regarding copyright in the United States is this: One need do NOTHING to establish copyright. Copyright of an artistic or literary work is established IMMEDIATELY as soon as the work is completed. No notice or application or registration or deposit is required to copyright something. It is an inherent right of the author or artist.

However --- that having been said, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff under our system of justice. Therefore it is prudent to take steps to protect your rights against future infringement. Mailing something to yourself is one way to begin establishing a date of creation and evidence of authorship and ownership. But registering a copyright with the US Copyright office is not very difficult or expensive (Currently $30 USD) and is in fact REQUIRED if you hope to sue for infringement in US Federal court and in most state courts.

The main advantages of Copyright registration are:

Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.

Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.

If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.

Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. For additional information, request Publication No. 563 "How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Right," from: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7404, Washington, D.C. 20044. See the U.S. Customs Service Website at www.customs.gov for online publications.

The official US Government copyright office website is actually fairly easy to navigate and understand and is worth visiting for more information. They are found at: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html

Another interesting site if you're looking for help with copyright is at:
http://www.benedict.com/


on Jan 10, 2004
tricksy, but it makes sense.
on Jan 10, 2004
Exactly what oSoShameless said.
on Jan 10, 2004
It's a good idea, and a pretty well-known one, but in reality it's not as perfect as it seems. It's not difficult to simply mail yourself an unsealed empty envelope and keep it handy in case you feel like ripping off someone else's work. All you then need to do is fabricate an 'original' disc containing the work and seal it inside the pre-stamped envelope.
on Jan 10, 2004
This is not a valid method.

A) The US mail makes no effort to catalog the contents of a package before they mail it, so the alleged manuscript might have never been in it. This means they can't testify to the contents at a given date.

the US mail makes no guarantee that mail has not been tampered with in transit.

C) the US mail can't vouch for for what happens to the contents once it passes out of their hands back to you. It is a really easy matter to open and reseal an envelope, especially if you didn't seal it well in the first place.

For the postal service to be used this way, the postmark would have to officially guarantee the seal on the package. There's no way they'd accept that kind of responsibility. A package is a 'black box' to the postal service. "Poor Man's Copyright" pretty much urban legend at this point, but it doesn't work.
on Jan 10, 2004
Sending yourself a copy of your work via regular mail is not enough. I don't know what kind of mail servicecs you have in the US, but in Canada, we have a thing called "registered mail" where the post office seals the envelope, a signature is required upon reception and the post office keeps a record of all the parcels signed for, with the official date. This, and this kind of mailing to yourseld can be accepted in court in Canada. Probably similar in the US if you have that kind of service where the post office seals the enveloppe.
on Jan 10, 2004
BTW, sending a registered manuscript via registerd mail in Canada can cost around 30$. Not something you'd do for evey single thing you create.
on Jan 10, 2004
mail is dated and it is a felony to tamper with it. so it would be logical to assume that the letter is real and untampered with because if it is then the tamperer gets sent to prison for a while, and that person accused of tampering would most likely be the same person who sent the letter to himself. So if you tampered with it...and it is possible to tell...why would you present it as evidence when it could get you imprisoned. at least this is how i interpret the law in this case. the mail is addressed to the person who would be accused so they might not be considered guilty of tampering. it would be safer to send it to a friend or attorney.

this method is merely to get a date on the material so you can prove that you made the same thing before the other person presented his rip to the world.
on Jan 10, 2004
Here I go again. We are involved in a rather large undertaking of a band in the Rock-n-Roll World. I don't know about the mailing part BUT in our case if you write a song you CAN take it to the local post office and have the postmaster stamp it with the official postmaster dated stamp on the document itself and you're done. You CAN sue you CAN protect it to the fullest extent of the law. We have done this on several occasions with the blessing of one of the biggest managment groups in the industry supported by one of the biggest entertainment attorneys in the industry.
on Jan 10, 2004
No, no.

Crazy Travis: "if you tampered with it...and it is possible to tell ( not true )...why would you present it as evidence when it could get you imprisoned" ( because you are sueing to make millions on a crime that would just get ya a couple of years, happens all the time. )

Postal deliveries are only legally protected until the person receives the package. Thereafter it is normal property and the postal service offers *no* certification or guarentee about its seal. I mail unsealed manila envelopes all the time (just using the metal bendie bit), and it would be easy for me to simply slide in a manuscript and use the glue seal. The post office offers no guarentee on the seal. They didn't make the envelope, so they can't guarentee it's seal.

RadialFX: having a post mark on every page simply dates the paper itself, like a Notary, and offers nothing as to the contents of the page. The legal safety a notary provides is that the document itself is witnessed as to the contents. If you have a postmaster validate every single page of a document, then when he is called to court, he will have to testify ( by memory ) that those are the *exact* words that were on the page when he postmarked them. Nutty idea, you'll never find a postmaster that would do that, and you'll never get anyone to believe a harrowed postmaster could remember a manuscript word-for-word years after postmarking it.

If you have won cases, it was on the other merits, not the postmarking.
on Jan 10, 2004
BakerStreet, We've been lucky that we haven't had a situation at all yet. I hope we never do! This procedure I spoke of was one recommended to me by 2 very notable industry experts, Mr. Jim Halsey and Mr. Joel A. Katz. Right or wrong or good or bad I don't know for sure. Their success and following in the industry were enough for me. Either way, if it ever comes up I'm going to let them do the fighting! I don't doubt that what you're saying has some validation and actually I'm going to ask one of them about it because you do make sense (about 2 cents) .
I'm kinda wondering now if I haven't mis-understood something they've told me. I really don't think so but I do appreciate you debating the issue enough to cause concern. It's not something I'd want to find out about in a courtroom followed by the crack of a gavel! Thanks!
on Jan 11, 2004
RadialFX: Judges consider a lot of stuff they shouldn't, so it is possible that it might add to the credibility of a case with some. Like if you walked in with a witness or two, some documentation, AND a sealed envelope. I don't think that alone would get you far, though.

In most of these cases the main thing you have to prove is that the person who stole something had the opportunity to get at it. If I claim Stephen King stole a novel idea from me, I have to prove he had access to it. The cases I have seen have usually hinged on that, more than the actual date of the material.
on Jan 11, 2004
A few things I've found in my searches about copyright and the systems out there:

in the UK: http://www.patent.gov.uk/copy/

in the US: http://www.copyright.gov/

Good info here, and remember that the moment you create something it is copyrighted to you. Your job, and that of the people you employ to prove it, is the hard part.

Good luck to all! Sorry for those in other countries, but these are the two that pertain to myself and my work. Google is a great source of information links!
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