[thelist] Re: copyright

Techwatcher techwatcher at accesswriters.com
Sun May 12 16:51:00 CDT 2002

The law states an artist owns a copyright (right to the copy)
immediately it is written. Most writers (for example) also "register"
their copyrights -- this is often, in practice, a case of "stick
everything you've written in a binder and send it to Washington" each
year. Registering the copyright is NOT required, but if something goes
wrong, and someone steals your work, you find it easier to collect
punitive damages as well as recover the income they took from you (if
it's registered).

In general, writers own their work outright. The exception is called
a "work for hire" -- you write something under a contract stating who
(not you) will own the copyright. Two main reasons for doing this are:
You are being paid very highly for your work (the secondary rights are
therefore less important) ; and the work itself is of such a specific
nature (as for technical manuals generally) that the right to republish
is probably not of much value. Also, screenwriters typically have to
turn over their copyrights to the film's producer.

If there's any doubt, you own it. If you didn't say you're giving away
the copyright, you own it. If you didn't get paid much, even if you had
to sign away your rights in order to publish, you may still be found to
own it (the purpose of copyright is to encourage the author) if it goes
to court.


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