Sunday, March 1, 2015

Protecting Your Work

By George H. Long, Jr.

“The burden of proof is on the side of right,” said Judge Bill Smith. Your work is protected by US Copyright law the moment it is conceived. Whether written down on a napkin, or documented in your computer, the law says, it is yours alone. But what if the person who witnessed your napkin creation is the one who steals your story? How would you prove it is yours?

You could mail yourself a certified package and enclose your intellectual property. Sign for the package, and do not open it. Be sure to tape the returned proof of delivery card to the package. You may also email the text or art to yourself. The dated email is your proof. These are good ideas, but there is nothing better than to have your work registered at the US Copyright Office. If you go to: www. you can file on line for a fee of $35.

The cost of litigation is high. Each thing you do to protect your work may save you money.  

Hooray! You’ve sold your first story and just can’t wait to sign the contract. Not so fast. You may be signing away more of your rights than you think. There are quite a few profit opportunities connected to your intellectual property and each facet may be a point of negotiation under contract law. There are e-books, toys, international sales, language translations, TV rights, movie rights, play rights and merchandise rights just to name a few.

You must be sure of what you are signing, otherwise you may sign away some of your dreams and all the profit that goes with them.

Regardless of how you go about Protecting Your Work, take heed to the words of my friend Judge Bill Smith, “The burden of proof is on the side of right,”  

1 comment:

Laura Puccia Valtorta said...

The only way to put yourself in a position to sue for copyright violation is to register the work with or register it (for screenwriters) with the Writers' Guild of America.