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Re: information on copyrights

Dec 03, 1997 02:23 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

At 04:38 PM 12/3/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Bart Lidofsky wrote:
>> Vincent Beall wrote:
>> > Eldon, I have been told directly by copyright examiners at the US
>> > Copyright office that noone has a copyright without a copyright
>> > certificate, which must be applied for and a fee paid. They have also
>> > said that putting a copyright notice on your work offers some
>> > protection, but it is weak and may mean that you would lose a costly
>> > leagle battle to collect damages.
>> >
>> > Why don't you check with the copyright office directly?
>>         I am interested in the exact wording of the question you asked the
>> examiner. Also, we are talking more about legal/illegal and right/wrong,
>> not what one can get away with.
>>         Bart Lidofsky
>The legality is simply that your legal right to copyright is established
>by registration and reciept of the certificate. If you only post a
>notice of copyright without registration your right is not definitely
>estabished by law.

That *was* true until 1978, when the laws changed. Since then, there is
automatic copyright on anything you write, regardless of whether you
register the copyright or not. The law is quite clear about this, and
it's quite plainly stated in the literature available from the
copyright office and any article or FAQ providing summary information
on US copyrights. Before 1978, if you published something and failed to
put a copyright notice on it, it might fall into the public domain;
but then the laws changed. Other changes to the law that happened then
included an retroactive extension of the 58-year limit on copyrights
to 75 years, which means that books copyrighted in 1923 will enter the
public domain in a few weeks, as 1998 begins.

-- Eldon

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