The moment of work is created and fixed in a tangible form when it is copyrighted. Everything else is ancillary and not required, however you are strongly recommended to copyright your work to deter infringement. Following are some ways to protect your work.
A correctly worded copyright notice, while not a requirement, is highly useful in deterring infringement. A copyright notice is a piece of text accompanying your work that expresses the rights and the wishes of the owner. The placement of the copyright notice is crucial depending on the text being written.
If you are writing a book or an eBook, you should only need one inside the front cover. Leaflets, commercial documents, etc. need to have one on each page. Web pages on the other hand should have a copyright mark on every page.
In the music industry, one is placed on the cassette or CD. If the medium has a sleeve or booklet, the copyright mark is place on them as well. Photographs and designs have one at the bottom or on the reverse of the work. A single notice on the front of a manuscript is usually sufficient.
Most countries accept the symbol “©”, while some countries require the word “Copyright” to appear in order for the copyright to be considered valid. The year of publication as well as the author’s name are also included to avoid any confusion. For example: Copyright © 2004 Jane Smith. This would remove any confusion when it comes to infringement issues.
Registering one’s work is another method to avoid infringement. Registration of the work can be done at any point before the copyright expires. Registration establishes a public record of the copyright. There is an online method for registration, which provides an immediate and international protection for the work. Postal registration is another method, but there is a limitation to the size of the work that can be registered.
Keeping a record of the supporting evidence also reduces chances of copyright violation.
The evolution of ideas is defined as evidence that the work has progressed over a period of time. This includes background research, initial drafts, rough sketches and first recordings. This can be done by registering any updates of the work so that it’s available for public access along with the completed work. You can also use a version controlled system to track any changes to the work file. Examples of open source version control systems include Subversions and CVS.
Footprints and watermarks are some other methods to provide supporting evidence. Footprints are hidden elements or deliberate mistakes known only to the author and help prove authorship while watermarks are special algorithms embedded in a file that can be read by certain software.
The last method to avoid infringement is to write up an agreement. This is pertinent in the case of co-authorship or anything that required a group effort in its making. The agreement should be precise with all parties being clear on what they require out of it. Some of the questions that could be addressed while drawing up an agreement are: what happens in case one member decides to leave the group, how are they allowed to use their work and how will the remaining members use it. Should the work be treated as a separate entity with its own assets? How should the royalties be split in case the work is sold or published later?
All of these methods of copyrighting are still in use and if you wish to preserve the authenticity of your artistic values and intelligence, you should consider copyrighting as a serious option.
Grace is an expert on content strategy with Godot Media. She works with Godot’s team of content writers on articles, blog posts, ebooks, copywriting etc. to be used for quality content marketing. She is also happens to be a blogger, writing about anything from fashion to content marketing to health.