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Old 05-08-2012, 09:50 PM   #16
morriss003
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Originally Posted by altworld View Post
In an effort to stop a little misinformation, the moment you create the work you own the Copyright of it. One way of showing a date of copyright is to mail the work to yourself, however it hasn't been shown if that is a way of protecting your work in a court of law.

To legally enforce that Copyright it is a good idea to file it with your Countries Copyright office. At this time the US Office turn around time is 90 days.

Good luck,
Nick
Nick, I'm glad to hear that they are getting faster. In 2009, it took them a year to get back to me.
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:42 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by EileenG View Post
In the event of a legal dispute, what will work is your early drafts. Even if, by some fluke, someone managed to steal a copy of your story and registered it with the copyright office, you have the early drafts which you can use to show a court how you developed the ideas, what changes you made, how you edited etc. The other person can't do that.
Quoting this to make sure it doesn't get missed in all the other discussion. This is something that every writer can and should do. Make backups regularly, and don't delete the old ones (or not all of them, keep archive copies). Being able to show the development of the work over time is serious proof that would be very difficult to simulate in any convincing way.

The second form of proof you can offer is some non-family member that has reviewed an early draft of your work - let them keep their copy as proof if it becomes needed. If you become famous it could even become valuable to them.

These things are easy to do, and much less likely to run you into trouble than, for example, trying to get contracts signed before an agent/publisher has seen the full work, and you don't have to wait 90 days (or more) just to have your proof established.

Added to all this is needed a touch of realism. Don't panic about reputable agents and publishers. Your work would need to be seriously good to tempt people whose business it is to agent and publish books. And what is seriously good anyway? It's not like the people that rejected the first Harry Potter book knew what it was they were losing out on. If someone looks at some bright idea and likes it so much they want to use it, then use it they can and copyright won't help you. Much safer for someone (who knows what they're doing) to write their own version of an idea than to risk stealing the work of another - especially when they are not to know just what proof of copyright the true owner already has.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:44 AM   #18
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Reading this it makes it sound as if plagiarism is a significant issue in publishing. I know there's been the occasional well-publicised case, but it is REALLY a widespread problem?
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:30 AM   #19
Nancy Fulda
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Reading this it makes it sound as if plagiarism is a significant issue in publishing. I know there's been the occasional well-publicised case, but it is REALLY a widespread problem?
The only cases I know of are complaints against Wizards of the Coast; it's unclear from the available information whether plagiarism was really a factor, though, or whether novice authors were seeing shadows on the walls.

In the SFWA discussion forums, there is a great deal of talk about piracy of published works. There is very little concern that agents or editors might plagiarize one's submissions.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:33 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Reading this it makes it sound as if plagiarism is a significant issue in publishing. I know there's been the occasional well-publicised case, but it is REALLY a widespread problem?
Plagiarism is something that seems to concern a lot of people -- though whether it is, or has ever been, a significant issue for new authors I do not know. I doubt it.

There is potential for ideas to be "borrowed" (a separate issue), and some people get concerned about this -- but as I noted in my previous post, copyright doesn't help you here anyway. Such borrowing of ideas is very widespread (witness all the fan-fiction out there), but does it happen very often that the original creator of the idea loses out? I don't know, and this is even harder to prove, since there can be no case to bring before a court.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:35 AM   #21
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And, of course, an "idea" cannot be copyrighted. Anyone is free to write a book about a boy going to a school for wizards.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:35 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Nancy Fulda View Post
The only cases I know of are complaints against Wizards of the Coast; it's unclear from the available information whether plagiarism was really a factor, though, or whether novice authors were seeing shadows on the walls.
Hi Nancy!

Just curious, was this from their fiction line, or on their gaming side?
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:58 AM   #23
Nancy Fulda
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Hi Nancy!

Just curious, was this from their fiction line, or on their gaming side?
Hi Charles! Nice to see you here.

As I recall, this was from their open call for series to be written as work-for-hire. Authors pitched a series idea and the outline for the first book and were then put under contract for the full set, or something like that. Several authors claimed that WotC had lifted their submitted series idea and commissioned an author with a more established career to do the actual writing on it.

Disclaimer: This was about eight years ago and I wasn't paying much attention at the time, so I might not have all the facts straight.
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:55 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Nancy Fulda View Post
Hi Charles! Nice to see you here.

As I recall, this was from their open call for series to be written as work-for-hire. Authors pitched a series idea and the outline for the first book and were then put under contract for the full set, or something like that. Several authors claimed that WotC had lifted their submitted series idea and commissioned an author with a more established career to do the actual writing on it.

Disclaimer: This was about eight years ago and I wasn't paying much attention at the time, so I might not have all the facts straight.
Pardon me, but "WotC" is what? Is that a game/story series?
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:37 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Reading this it makes it sound as if plagiarism is a significant issue in publishing. I know there's been the occasional well-publicised case, but it is REALLY a widespread problem?
Really, it's not. I was a journalist for years, and was constantly hearing people complain about ringing up papers with an idea and the paper stole their idea. No, it didn't. In general ideas were triggered by the same thing (ghost stories at halloween, for instance) and the features editor had already told a staffer to do a feature on ghost stories before the free lancer rang up.

If someone did come up with an original idea, the editor would say "Yes, write that and send it to me".

Same with novels. It's easier all round just to pay the person who wrote the great novel, rather than try to steal it and cope with the flack the results.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:40 PM   #26
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The second form of proof you can offer is some non-family member that has reviewed an early draft of your work - let them keep their copy as proof if it becomes needed. If you become famous it could even become valuable to them.
While no-one enjoys getting them, this is one time those rejections slips come in useful. If you can produce a handful of rejection slips for "My Wonderful Idea" it's proof that you've had this novel for a while, and have shown it to other people.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:02 PM   #27
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Pardon me, but "WotC" is what? Is that a game/story series?
It's a company: Wizards of the Coast. They're typically known for the Collectible Card Game (CCG) Magic: The Gathering (and its related media tie-in novels) but they eventually acquired other properties like TSR, which published Dungeons & Dragons.

They publish several gaming books and media tie-in novels every year.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:10 PM   #28
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In retrospect, the bigger problem when it comes to peddling your manuscript to reputable agents and publishers isn't likely going to be plagiarism (considering the number of submissions they receive, it's probably not worth the effort) but reaping the benefits of your copyrighted work.

Brian Keene for example has documented how Dorchester violated his copyright (and that of other authors): http://www.briankeene.com/?p=6140

Kristine Kathryn Rusch also documents how some publishers have failed to properly compensate her for royalties (her website just suffered from a Wordpress attack/hack so I don't have a direct link right now).

One author who often litigates is Harlan Ellison, and while there are some battles he deserves to "win," there are some that surprises me as well.
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Old 05-26-2012, 02:37 PM   #29
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(A) Do you copyright?

CopyRight!

(B) Why?

(C) Why not?
The answers given were sparse if any.

For myself:

(A) - Yes
(B) - Just one of those perfunctory cautions that that seems to work in my favor to avoid any headaches. Anything I send off has at least "Copyright applied for."
(C) - N/A

(Note. There are some ins and outs not discussed above.)
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Old 05-27-2012, 02:43 AM   #30
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And, of course, an "idea" cannot be copyrighted. Anyone is free to write a book about a boy going to a school for wizards.
True though the more common threads one book has with another author's book the greater the chance of someone saying that author x stole my story and claimed it as his/her own. J.K. Rowling has faced that problem herself I believe. Another author had written similar stories at about the same time as her 1st Harry Potter books were coming out and terms like "Muggles" were used in both stories as well so the other author took Ms. Rowling to court accusing her of plagarism as I recall. Which isn't to say that it doesn't happen either. There was a romance novelist who 'borrowed' shall we say ideas that were the work of another author in the genre and there was a big stink about it. In the end there is no such thing as a totally original idea I don't think. Every author draws on experiences in their lives and being that all authors are human beings there are going to be some common themes and ideas. The trick is to mix them up in an original manner so the stories seem to be fresh and new even though the basic plots were laid down by the time of Aristotle if not before.
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