To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
13 messages

Help: copyright

16 Jul 01 - 06:56 AM (#507507)
Subject: copyright
From: forty two

This was prompted from "Sign on the dotted line kid" but that thread sort of went off at an angle!

I have a friend who copyrights his music by putting the sheet music in an envelope and then posts it to himself. The postage mark then on the stamp dates the tune as long as the envelope remains sealed.

Has anyone got thoughts on this form of copyrighting and would it stand up in court?

16 Jul 01 - 07:43 AM (#507518)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: paddymac

Your friend's methodology is not copyrighting. It's only value is as evidence of his use/possession of the material as of the postmark date, which could help defend him from infringement charges if somebody else copyrighted the work.

16 Jul 01 - 09:18 AM (#507558)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: Jukebox

Be sure to send it to yourself as a registered letter, and once you receive it, don't open it. There are definitely other steps required to properly copyright material, but I have heard of this method being useful evidence when originality has been challenged.

16 Jul 01 - 09:35 AM (#507569)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: clansfolk

As said copyright exists from the moment you write the song and the self addressed envelope is only to act as proof of first ownership - and yes it does stand up in court.

Also as mentioned - the letter should be registered and the registration sticker is best applied over the opening of the envelope (this may upset the chap at the post office - but it was what we were recommended to do in the 60's and it paid off!)we then lodged the envelopes with our solicitor (or you could use a bank box etc) but of course you could keep it locked away yourself (don't loose it though!!!!)

Originally I was worried that once the envelope was opened in the court I would loose my proof (I was young!!) but of course the court's ruling and acceptance of your proof of date goes on record and if anyone else claims rights they would need to have proof predating the courts ruling

Not much added to the threads already posted but another angle from someone with first hand knowledge!


16 Jul 01 - 01:10 PM (#507752)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: forty two

Thanks everyone for your help

16 Jul 01 - 01:18 PM (#507758)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: mousethief

Could you have a sheet with the song lyrics notarized? Would that work as well as proof of first ownership?


16 Jul 01 - 02:00 PM (#507810)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: clansfolk

Information if you live in the UK - advice from MCPS (PRS)


Songwriters should remember that under UK law both musical works and literary works are automatically protected from the time that they are committed to some material form - that is, written down or recorded in any way; no official registration is necessary to secure copyright in the work. Notification of a title, as is required from PRS members for the Society's works registration purposes, does not create copyright in the notified work or works.

A consequence of the above is that, in the event of a dispute over authorship, ownership or originality, there is no standard way of proving that one work was in existence before another. There are, however, several ways in which it is possible to prove that a work had been produced by a given date, namely:-

Deposit a copy with a solicitor or bank manager and obtain a dated receipt; charges would doubtless be made for this service;
Send a copy of the work to yourself by registered post, leaving the envelope unopened upon receipt;
Register the work at Stationers' Hall where a Copyright Register has been kept for many years.

The fee for the registration of a work or a group of works was £30.00 plus VAT. This fee provides registration for seven years; thereafter re-registration for another seven years can be obtained by payment of a further fee.

Their address is:-

Stationers' Hall,
Ave Maria Lane,
London, EC4M 7DD.
Tel: 020 7248 2934
Fax: 020 7489 1975

16 Jul 01 - 02:14 PM (#507822)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: Mrrzy

I know that to copyright my dissertation, all I had to do was handwrite (C) my name, and bingo, my dissertation was legally copyrighted. Copywritten. Whatever, but it's legal and no post office involved. However, the chances of anyone else attempting to copyright my dissertation are a) slim and b) none, so I wouldn't use just that to copyright anything anyone else might come up with.

16 Jul 01 - 02:29 PM (#507841)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: kendall

The last time I applied for a copyright it was $20.00, That could add up.

16 Jul 01 - 03:15 PM (#507876)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: GUEST,Barry T not at home

Clansfolk stated...
...the self addressed envelope is only to act as proof of first ownership - and yes it does stand up in court.

I agree with Paddymac and Jukebox: This technique serves only to provide evidence to a tribunal or court. Whether it's accepted as proof is determined only through the litigation process.

16 Jul 01 - 03:33 PM (#507894)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: Mary in Kentucky

In applying for chemical patents in a research lab we had to document our work in official notebooks. Our work was signed by someone not in our immediate working group. If we changed anything (a misspelling, a number, or anything) we could not erase it, but instead crossed through it, initialed it, then wrote the correction. We were also encouraged to keep an idea journal. Sometimes it is important to establish who came up with an idea first, and days and hours can make a difference. But of course, the company had patent lawyers who took it from there. My boss said the best way to hide information was to put it in a patent! (because they were notoriously convoluted and hard to follow, much less interpret). There is also the term "abandoned patent" which a company chooses not to own, therefore it's in the name of the employee. (fingers still crossed here)

Just some ideas here...nothing replaces good legal advice. (the kind you pay for)

16 Jul 01 - 04:04 PM (#507927)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: JEFF F

As one who works in the UK Patent Office which administers copyright I think the registered letter method would be enough to establish the date of your work and perhaps your copyright. But,remember, that you would have to sue any infringer in the courts and that ain't cheap (which won't come as a surprise). Sorry to be pragmatic but the first thing you should think about is "will it valuable enoughto make this worthwhile?" I'm afraid that in most cases the answer is "NO". If it goes on to be a million seller and you lose out on your copyright I shall, of course, deny any of this advice.

16 Jul 01 - 05:45 PM (#508027)
Subject: RE: Help: copyright
From: Maryrrf

Well, it's pretty easy in the US. Just get form from the US Copyright office (you can download it from the net). It costs $30.00 but you can register a whole slew of songs for that sum. I think it's worth it if you think you might want to prove authorship of something sometime. You send a form in along with a recording of the song.