Relax, You Already Have a Copyright

Many artists operate under the mistaken belief that unless the copyright symbol © appears next to the title of their work, then their novels, screenplays, lyrics, poems, manuscripts and other assorted  jottings aren’t protected by the copyright laws.  Fortunately, this assumption — while historically accurate — no longer holds true today.  Under the copyright laws that were in effect before 1978, a work that was published without copyright notice automatically became part of the public domain. This rule was repealed, and copyright notice is not necessary for works first published after March 1, 1989. What you wrote last week is yours, and no one can use your work without permission (with some notable exceptions for sampling, fair comment, and parody). While different countries have different laws detailing what is necessary for a valid copyright, how long a copyright lasts, and who retains the copyright after an author’s death, in the United States the rule is relatively simple:  what you wrote yesterday is yours today, yours tomorrow, and yours for 70 years after your demise.

One comment

  1. Right on! I am so glad people are willing to speak up against things that are JUST WRONG! My story – I am a Best Selling author in Paris, Ontario. Canada. Six years ago, my mother and I joined forces to write down the 70 year old secret recipes that my mother was taught in Hungarian Cooking School. As a trained professional, she enjoyed creating dishes for her family, but shied away from sharing the recipes commercially.

    Then, the baby boomers came along – who’s parents are all aging and find themselves grasping at straws, rushing to the internet for recipes that barely resemble the traditional classics they grew up with and of course, sadly disappointed with the results – then finally purchasing a Hungarian Heritage Recipe cookbook such as mine to rescue the traditions.

    That’s the pleasant part of the story. The ugly part of the story is that my title and all my ideas including book layout, recipe format, recipes, division etc etc were cloned. What’s even more obnoxious about her activities, is that this stupid, stupid woman is going as far as trying to cheat the public into thinking that SHE not I, is the originator of the works.

    The stories of where the recipes came from is nauseating. Apparently they were copyrighted in 1891. Who is that crazy to believe such horse- ka ka? Also the cover is stolen (without permission) from a tourist site, desacrated with some horrible font and a fuzzy photograph. Yikes. If matters weren’t worse – this cookbook author wanna-be has “LIFTED” hundreds of professional photos from photographers currently alive and in the business. Her modus operendi is on the internet and in person is vicious and relentless. I call the sickness “Can’t get over the fact that someone beat you to the punch and is successful Syndrome”.

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