Author Topic: A brief question regarding copyright  (Read 442 times)  

Online Almyrigan Hero

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A brief question regarding copyright
« on: October 16, 2020, 08:14:32 pm »
I've searched around for an answer to this, but had no luck so far (likely due in part to how specific it is, and just what a metric ton of information exists on copyright in general.)

I know that books are automatically copyright protected by being a fixed medium, but I've also heard that a registration is useful. My question is: what happens if I send in a finished manuscript for registration, but publish it before the 3-month(ish) registration process is fully completed? Would doing that disrupt the process? Would there be more dire legal consequences? If not, would the in-progress registration (at least after completion) prove that I am the owner of my copyright if anyone disputed before the registration is accepted, or is the entire idea pointless?
« Last Edit: October 16, 2020, 08:16:59 pm by AlmyriganHero »

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    Offline Doglover

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      • Margaret Brazear Author
    Re: A brief question regarding copyright
    « Reply #1 on: October 16, 2020, 11:16:39 pm »
    I've searched around for an answer to this, but had no luck so far (likely due in part to how specific it is, and just what a metric ton of information exists on copyright in general.)

    I know that books are automatically copyright protected by being a fixed medium, but I've also heard that a registration is useful. My question is: what happens if I send in a finished manuscript for registration, but publish it before the 3-month(ish) registration process is fully completed? Would doing that disrupt the process? Would there be more dire legal consequences? If not, would the in-progress registration (at least after completion) prove that I am the owner of my copyright if anyone disputed before the registration is accepted, or is the entire idea pointless?
    I've read of people registering a copyright long after the book's been published, so I don't think that's a problem.


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    Online J. Tanner

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    Re: A brief question regarding copyright
    « Reply #2 on: October 17, 2020, 01:12:11 am »
    Registration of copyright can be done at any time during the life of the copyright.

    The only impact registration has is when there is infringement.

    So the only situation that could occur based on publishing before registration is complete that couldn't otherwise occur is also having infringement occur before registration is complete. In that situation, you wouldn't be able to seek statutory damages or attorney's fees for the infringement.

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    Offline Sleeping Cat Books

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    Re: A brief question regarding copyright
    « Reply #3 on: October 17, 2020, 06:43:22 am »
    Effective Date of Registration
    When the Copyright Office registers a work it assigns an effective date of registration to the certificate of registration. The effective date of registration is the day that the Office receives in proper form all required elements - an acceptable application, an acceptable deposit, and a nonrefundable filing fee. The date is not set until all the required elements are in the Office's possession...The date is not based on how long it takes the Office to examine the materials or mail the certificate of registration.

    You do not have to receive your certificate of registration before you publish or produce your work. Nor do you need permission from the Copyright Office to place a copyright notice on your work.

    From the US Copyright Office Circular 1 Copyright Basics: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf#page=7

    Online Almyrigan Hero

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    Re: A brief question regarding copyright
    « Reply #4 on: October 17, 2020, 08:51:45 am »
    So the only situation that could occur based on publishing before registration is complete that couldn't otherwise occur is also having infringement occur before registration is complete. In that situation, you wouldn't be able to seek statutory damages or attorney's fees for the infringement.
    What I'm more asking is, if someone infringes between the date of publication and the completed copyright registration, would I then be able to sue for full damages after the registration does go through? Or does it basically just create this weird legal blindspot, in which there's basically proof of both copyright and infringement, but since the proof itself wasn't officiated until afterwards, it just...doesn't count, for some reason?

    Effective Date of Registration
    When the Copyright Office registers a work it assigns an effective date of registration to the certificate of registration. The effective date of registration is the day that the Office receives in proper form all required elements - an acceptable application, an acceptable deposit, and a nonrefundable filing fee. The date is not set until all the required elements are in the Office's possession...The date is not based on how long it takes the Office to examine the materials or mail the certificate of registration.

    You do not have to receive your certificate of registration before you publish or produce your work. Nor do you need permission from the Copyright Office to place a copyright notice on your work.

    From the US Copyright Office Circular 1 Copyright Basics: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf#page=7

    I guess what I really want to know is less "may I legally do this?," and more "is it a good idea?" Should I go ahead and publish as soon as the copyright office tells me they have everything they need, or should I just be patient and wait those three extra months? What can people do to exploit me if I try and take a shortcut like this, how likely are they to do it, and what all am I likely to lose if they do? Or, am I just being paranoid, and is this not actually a 'shortcut' at all?

    Online J. Tanner

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    Re: A brief question regarding copyright
    « Reply #5 on: October 17, 2020, 10:04:24 am »
    What I'm more asking is, if someone infringes between the date of publication and the completed copyright registration, would I then be able to sue for full damages after the registration does go through? Or does it basically just create this weird legal blindspot, in which there's basically proof of both copyright and infringement, but since the proof itself wasn't officiated until afterwards, it just...doesn't count, for some reason?

    You can sue (assuming you can find the person who did it so you can sue them). You just can't get statutory damages or legal fees for infringement that occurs at a time prior to registration. You can still get actual damages, and the infringing content removed (which generally doesn't even take a lawsuit and is where 99.9% of infringement enforcement ends.)

    Quote
    I guess what I really want to know is less "may I legally do this?," and more "is it a good idea?" Should I go ahead and publish as soon as the copyright office tells me they have everything they need, or should I just be patient and wait those three extra months? What can people do to exploit me if I try and take a shortcut like this, how likely are they to do it, and what all am I likely to lose if they do? Or, am I just being paranoid, and is this not actually a 'shortcut' at all?

    Honestly, I wouldn't register at all. You're worried about the wrong thing. Infringement situations that could result in a lawsuit that generates legal fees or statutory damages are so rare they aren't worth any concern at all. It's a luxury. When you've made thousands in profits, consider it. Until then, focus on writing books and leaning how to market them.
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    Offline Arches

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    Re: A brief question regarding copyright
    « Reply #6 on: October 17, 2020, 10:14:55 am »
    You can sue (assuming you can find the person who did it so you can sue them). You just can't get statutory damages or legal fees for infringement that occurs at a time prior to registration. You can still get actual damages, and the infringing content removed (which generally doesn't even take a lawsuit and is where 99.9% of infringement enforcement ends.)

    Honestly, I wouldn't register at all. You're worried about the wrong thing. Infringement situations that could result in a lawsuit that generates legal fees or statutory damages are so rare they aren't worth any concern at all. It's a luxury. When you've made thousands in profits, consider it. Until then, focus on writing books and leaning how to market them.

    J. Tanner is right. You're worrying about the wrong thing. Focus on making the book as good as possible and marketing it smartly. I'm a retired lawyer who used to practice copyright law. I haven't gotten around to registering some of my books because that's a minor issue in comparison to the writing and marketing of books.

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