11.22.2006

How many writes does a copyright copy if a copywrite writes not quite right?

Dear Miss Snark,

I am currently in the process of posting my novel, chapter by chapter, on a critique website. I plan to post the entire book up on the site, as I need all the help I can get. I have read that it is not wise to post more than the first three chapters or so on the Internet.

While I would be delighted if someone thought my festering cesspool of a novel was good enough to actually steal, I am not that worried about this happening (yes, it is that bad). I am planning to get it copyrighted, though, just in case a miracle happens and I'm able to improve this work enough to convince an agent to take more than a passing glance at it some time in the distant future.

My question is this- will a registered copyright through the US Library of Congress cover not only the version of the work submitted, but also any subsuquent versions? If I make revisions of the novel after I submit it for copyright, will those revisions also be copyrighted, or must I get a new copyright for each revision? Thank you.



One of the nice things about owning a computer, and knowing how to use it is you can type "copyright info" into a search engine and come up with info that's really helpful. Like this.

Short answer: stay away from the copyright office till you're published.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Plus you will look like an idiot to anyone who knows anything. It is already copyrighted and protected--don't register it. And don't use the little "c" symbol either.

Anonymous said...

Newbies! Grumble, bumble. Don't know how to find the search link on the blogs! Grumble, bumble.

Mr Sunshine is off for his morning antacid, but first:

Wellcome to the blog, kid.

Anonymous said...

Formally copyrighting an early version of your work? Daft!

Fungible Convictions said...

Stealing someone else's writing is hard work. Once you've taken out all the line breaks, find-replaced the character names (accounting for all possible misspellings), and added enough f-words to make the writing edgy, you might as well have used that time to write the Ultimate Cancer Novel.

Jodi Meadows said...

I plan to post the entire book up on the site, as I need all the help I can get. I have read that it is not wise to post more than the first three chapters or so on the Internet.

Um, that's only if it's for a website or something for public viewing, as far as I know. And then if you're slightly famous and have an agent and editor, you can talk with them about whether even the first three chapters is a good idea.

Other things, like workshops behind user ID and password, it's fine. The Online Writing Workshop for SFFH states copyright info before you post for critique, making sure you know all copyrights remain yours and whatever.

ORION said...

I really echo the sentiments of anon.
Yes, everybody has to learn sometime (or not!) but many would rather just ask instead of putting in the time to research on their own.
But it gets wearying to give the same answer over and over to the same questions...it reminds me of something...
What is it?
I know.
I was a teacher...Yep, that's it. High School.
I now know where all those people end up.

Anonymous said...

LOL Orion,
I still am a teacher and was thinking exactly the same thing! I have to force my students to face the fact that I'm not the dictionary or the encyclopedia or nowadays, the Internet!

BitchySmurf said...

My question is this- will a registered copyright through the US Library of Congress cover not only the version of the work submitted, but also any subsuquent versions? If I make revisions of the novel after I submit it for copyright, will those revisions also be copyrighted, or must I get a new copyright for each revision? Thank you.

It depends. If you do small edits or line edits (or Americanization/Britification) of the text, then yes it's still covered by the initial registration (which I urge you to please not to do until its published). If there is signifcant revision to the work, defined as 15% of the text or more, by the Library of Congress, they will allow you to register the work again. That is why you will see copyright lines with multiple years in the line (ex. Copyright (c) 2006, 2007 by me).

Anonymous said...

We all launch from the same platform--ignorance. It's not a crime. I shudder when I think of all the mistakes I made and the misinformation I sucked up when I was a raw beginner. I actually did that little c thing on my first submission, and used a box. And tape? Did anyone say tape? I'll bet that unsuspecting editor is still trying to open that sucker. As for SASE . . .

Now I'm smarter, but not a hell of a lot wiser about the publishing business. And, yanno, there are times I long for those *ignorant* days, when I didn't know how f------ hard this biz can be.

(Yeah, I'm published.)

Ryan Field said...

There's an old saying in the antiques business: "The only person on earth who wanted what your grandmother had was your grandfather."

LadyBronco said...

Hasn't this person ever heard of "lurking"?

I learned tons just lurking on different blogs and then researching what I had read.

Oh, wait. The word research musta threw them.

My bad.

LadyBronco said...

Has clueless never heard of lurking?
If research is just too much to attempt, then consider this approach ~ it's amazing the info you can glean by just hanging out and reading what folks have to say.

Patience, nitwit, patience.
All will be revealed in time.

Zany Mom said...

Heck, I can prove the novel is mine just by the fact that I have every single revision I ever made, dating back to the first 120 pages I ever wrote, where the names were different, the writing was oh-so-beginner and melodramatic, but the place and storyline were the same.

I'd submit it to the crapometer, but I don't want to have our dear Miss Snark keel over. OTOH, I'm sure she's read such dreck in her slush pile already.

Alas, I shall submit a proper hook and prepare to be shredded. Chocolate on hand? Check!

Zany Mom said...

Gee, to be a high school student today. Research is so much easier than trudging through the libraries searching through stacks of dusty books in search of the required reading.

Ahh, the wonders of Google!

Anonymous said...

Once it's written (assuming it's original work), it's automatically copyrighted, at least in the US. Registering one is more of a legal formality than anything else.

lauowolf said...

Must be the holidays.
Very mellow response, considering.

Anonymous said...

It's a cluelessness epidemic! Everyone put on your protective gear! Let's hope Miss Snark's clue gun doesn't run out of vaccine.

A Naughty Miss said...

My favorite question on the US Copyright Office FAQ:

How do I protect my sighting of Elvis?

Me thinks the Copyright website needs to include a link to the Clueless poster.

Miss Snark said...

That IS hilarious isn't it.
But...you know they get asked that question a LOT. Sasquatch, Miss Snark, Nessie, Elvis...all elusive nocturnal slinkers about town!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Newbies! I guess we all used to be one. But to echo the seniments of all above, no you don't need to register, you are already covered.

But if you must...If you make changes like something more than just editorial changes or minor changes. This would qualify as a new derivative work. (For instance, simply making spelling corrections throughout a work does not warrant a new registration, but adding an additional chapter does mean a new copyright is necessary).

No matter said...

There is also a very cheap way of proving that you own the copyright to your work.

Print it out, seal it in an envelope, sign your name across the seal (get a friend to sign for you, if you like), then mail it to yourself. The postmark will date it for you.

When it arrives, don't open it, file it.

Then if you're ever challenged you can produce the unopened, dated piece of work in court.

Mac said...

"Then if you're ever challenged you can produce the unopened, dated piece of work in court."

This doesn't work.

For a start,you could just send an empty, unsealed envelope to yourself - then, years later, fill it with the latest Dan Brown novel then sue him.

If you want examples where this 'poor man's copyright' has been totally useless .. here is one:

http://www.clubnetradio.com/news/Britney_Spears_Copyright_Suit_Dismissed/dance/200.html

This guy followed your advice, and it totally failed.

Let's not perpetuate the myth of 'poor man's copyright'...

Mac

No matter said...

Thanks for pointing that out.