minstrel: Copyright Mundane Law as of 1997

Joshua Kronengold mneme at dorsai.org
Tue Jun 24 11:21:59 PDT 1997

Tara Seides writes:
>My understanding of this (and this may have been the source of some of
>the confusion) is that as soon as you write it or record it, it's
>copywritten.  However, you cannot make a claim on it, that is, enforce
>it if someone has violated it until you register it.
This is pretty close, though not quite correct.
	As soon as something is written, it is copywritten.
	Unless you have a dead-solid method of proof, however, while
you might be able to get a cease+desist order, you won't be able to
claim punitive damages.
	If you've registered, and someone violates your copyright
(note, right, not write, despite copywritten above), you can collect
punitave damages based on how much they've hurt your theoretical
ability to earn money with the work in question.
	Note that the best way to do a "poor man's copyright" is NOT
to mail it to yourself -- mailing it is, among other things, easy to
fake.  The best method is to have it signed by a notary public.

>You do not have to register it before someone violates it, but you do
>have to register it before you take action if someone does.
Actually, you do.  In order to get damages, you have to have
registered it before they violated it.  
	In order to get them to stop, you just need to prove that it's
yours, and don't need to register the copyright at all.

>Again, this is my understanding of copywrites.  I am NOT a lawyer.  I
>don't even play one on TV.  I could be wrong.  It's happened before. 
>Well, once or twice.  :-D
I'm not a lawyer either, but I tend to do my research reasonably well.
Speaking of which, since nobody else has listed even secondary
sources, here are some from me:
	The Copyright Law FAQ 
	Copyright Myths FAQ (http://www.clari.net/brad/copymyths.html)
	The US copyright ofice site: http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/
		(ok, so this one counts as primary source -- who's
mneme at dorsai.org	Joshua Kronengold		|\      _,,,--,,_  ,)
---^----"Unix is easy.  Just like a cross between	/,`.-'`'   -,  ;-;;' 
  /\\ 	 English and Welsh.  Except that you have to   |,4-  ) )-,_ ) /\ 
-/-\\\--	take out all the vowels"  -- Me	      '---''(_/--' (_/-'

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