What's So Important About Copyrights?

Copyright 1997-1998, The SCOOPnet, All rights reserved.





You may be wondering why _this site_ even exists. Are you thinking, "What's so
important about copyrights?" This page will answer some basic questions about
why knowing the basics of copyright law can be important to you.

When anyone creates anything, i.e. writes a story, paints a picture, or
designs a website, and puts it into some tangible form outside of their
thoughts and imagination, they own the copyright rights to it, even if they
haven't registered their work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

What does it mean to "own the copyright?" The copyright owner controls the
rights to copy, distribute, make derivatives of (modify), or perform their
work. It is illegal for anyone to use or modify their work without their
permission.

Copyright is just as important on the web as it is elsewhere. Webmasters need
to be extremely careful about what they use on their sites, making sure they
have explicit permission to use material they have not created themselves.
When in doubt about whether something is free to be taken, always ASK the
originator of the material. If one can not find the owner, or can not get a
response to requests for permission, it is best to err on the side of caution
and not use the material.

In order to secure your copyright rights, the best procedure is to register
your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration of your copyright has
many advantages and gives you the right to pursue a copyright infringement
lawsuit in federal court. That could result in your winning monetary damages
and lawyers' fees when you prevail in court. Without the official
registration, your legal remedies, while not inconsequential, are more
limited, especially in the monetary damages area.

If you decide not to invest the time and money it takes to register your
copyright, it is a good idea to at least print out a copy of your work or
place an archive of your work on floppy disks, seal it in an envelope
addressed to yourself, and then mail the package via certified mail, return
receipt requested, to yourself. _Do_ _not_ _open_ the package when you get it
back from the post office. What you will have is what some call "the poor
man's copyright" registration. Also, be sure to make a detailed list and/or a
duplicate of what you put in the package and then file that with your
unopened, postmarked envelope. This will be credible evidence for the date of
creation of your work. However, only official registration with the copyright
office gives you the right to sue for copyright infringement.

We will be adding more information on procedures that you can follow to
further secure your copyright rights. We are leaving it to Aunt Crabby to come
up with possible remedies you can use if you find that someone has copied your
work.

Don't put it off, get busy and start securing your rights! Also, be sure you
are in the right. Remember, "_Don't be in haste to copy and paste._"

An excellent article on Copyrights in Cyberspace
is at _the Nolo Press site_. Don't miss it!

For detailed information on copyright law and copyright registration
procedures, there are many useful resources available on the internet and in
print. See our Official page for links to internet resources, and visit our
Amazon.com associate bookstore for an easy way to buy a good reference on
copyright.

What's So Important About Copyrights?

Copyright 1997-1998, The SCOOPnet, All rights reserved.

Please direct questions, comments, or advice to _scoopnet@thescoop.net_  
 
 


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