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Khemosabi

Protecting Your Content 2017 Style!

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Like every other writer, I spend a LOT of time doing my best to provide quality and originality. 

We have all seen and cringed at the content spinning software, witnessed blatant copy and paste and obviously stealing isn't going away anytime soon.  So, what do we do?

I know that you can disable the copy feature on content (but not always) and that you can have strict policy guidelines in your "Laws around town" section... but what else? 

Often times, I'll email my content to myself establishing a date of origin.  Or/and, I'll email it to someone I trust.  I also know that once you write it, online, there's a sort of half ass 'rule' that you Copyrighted it... ??  Thoughts?  I'm still really unclear about that... 

Anyhow, I am in the process of writing and publishing a ton of work.  I really, really, want to protect my content.  I'm just unclear as to how.  This has been a roadblock for me and I so want to get past it! 

Do you, as writers, scan the internet for your content here and there?  Who has time for that?  Do you just accept that this will and does happen and flow with it?

Ideas please!

 

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An easy way to monitor your content is to set Google alerts for chunks of your content, specifically unusual sentences or uncommon word structures. You'll get an alert when people post your content. 

It's not a perfect system. You'll get some mis-hits, but the price is right and the process is "set and forget".

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19 hours ago, Dan Riffle said:

An easy whet to monitor your content is to set Google alerts for chunks of your content, specifically unusual sentences or uncommon word structures. You'll get an alert when people post your content. 

It's not a perfect system. You'll get some mis-hits, but the price is right and the process is "set and forget".

I had forgotten about Google alerts, thanks. 

Next big stumbling block I've had is I want to publish most of this content on my sites, first.  An example would be, I have some articles about computer safety.  I want to put them on one of my client's site(s)  (he has two)  But I want to remain the author.  Do I need a separate Terms of Use because it's my stuff or can I lump another paragraph that no one will read in the site owners TOS ? 

I think I know the answer, but I'm curious as to what others do. 

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If you have anything you are seriously worried enough about, before you put it online print it out and either get it notarized or mail it to yourself certified mail and don't open it when you get it. That assures if you are ever in court, that will be the first time since the postage date that it has been tampered with.  You'll want to wait a few days before publishing it anywhere - it's just a "proof" of ownership. 

For the average article writing it's a pretty stiff and unrealistic to bother with.  Along with G Alerts, you can also just do web searches for material.  I did a lot of those when I was writing articles for EA to see who had picked them up to make sure I got the appropriate credits.  

If you want to get real technical, though - anytime you put anything online, evan an ebook, you're going to be at risk of the plagiarizers. 

As far as your articles on someone else's site, you're going to have to spell that out in an agreement. Especially if they are paying for that material.  They have to know they are not paying for rights, which means they are at risk of you yanking that article any time you want. They also need to know that if for some reason they want to keep them in any circumstance that you don't want them posted any longer that they have to take them down.  This should be very clearly spelled out in writing.  

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On 6/26/2017 at 2:51 PM, HeySal said:

If you have anything you are seriously worried enough about, before you put it online print it out and either get it notarized or mail it to yourself certified mail and don't open it when you get it. That assures if you are ever in court, that will be the first time since the postage date that it has been tampered with.  You'll want to wait a few days before publishing it anywhere - it's just a "proof" of ownership. 

For the average article writing it's a pretty stiff and unrealistic to bother with.  Along with G Alerts, you can also just do web searches for material.  I did a lot of those when I was writing articles for EA to see who had picked them up to make sure I got the appropriate credits.  

If you want to get real technical, though - anytime you put anything online, evan an ebook, you're going to be at risk of the plagiarizers. 

As far as your articles on someone else's site, you're going to have to spell that out in an agreement. Especially if they are paying for that material.  They have to know they are not paying for rights, which means they are at risk of you yanking that article any time you want. They also need to know that if for some reason they want to keep them in any circumstance that you don't want them posted any longer that they have to take them down.  This should be very clearly spelled out in writing.  

Thanks Sal!

My works will be published on my sites first and shared on his.  Any monies I make from them off of his site, he'll make a commission.  We worked this out yesterday.  He does fully understand that I own the works and they're there to benefit his site and customers.  I will tighten up my legal stuff, too seeing how his site is gaining traffic from 'all over the place' and not just local anymore. 

I will be doing something similar with others, so I needed to clean this clutter out of my head.  It's been such a great learning experience for me the more I grow my businesses, but man .. the mistakes I've made in the past have really kicked my rear.  I let those mistakes hinder me from branching out.

Next question is where do you go to get your legal forms?  TOS/Privacy Policy stuff?  Brain is always an option, but, and this is just a question, does everyone really go to a lawyer for this stuff?  **Yes, I know it's the BEST way to do things!  But not everyone waits around for this to be done by a lawyer, and not everyone can afford one.  They get something solid enough in place until they can afford a lawyer. 

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Just so everyone's aware, the "Poor Man's Copyright" that Sal referred to has no established legal bearing in the US:

http://www.snopes.com/legal/postmark.asp

It can't hurt you to do, but it most likely won't help you either. 

From the US Copyright Office:

Quote

The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

 

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Snopes got it right. Not a copywright lawyer, but when I dabbled in it, this is what I found to be true

 

Quote

You establish your copyright the moment your work is created and fixed in a tangible form. While you need not register your works with the United States Copyright Office to establish ownership of your intellectual property, you will have to register such items if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. (The fees for such service are laid out on this page.)

 

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2 hours ago, Dan Riffle said:

Just so everyone's aware, the "Poor Man's Copyright" that Sal referred to has no established legal bearing in the US:

http://www.snopes.com/legal/postmark.asp

It can't hurt you to do, but it most likely won't help you either. 

From the US Copyright Office:

 

No it's not binding........but it does give proof that you had the material before it was published. It's more of a protection for the writer. What writers seem to forget is that they can be accused of plagiarism or derivation, too.  You aren't just protecting against theft - your protecting yourself against accusation. The poor man's copyright can go along way at that end.  

Can you imagine writing for a website and actually copyrighting every piece you write?  Maybe you want to copyright a piece of work here or there.....but every one of them?  There goes the ROI. whoosh. 

Best way I can see to go online for articles is to just put up a copyright notice (©, name, date)  and do an occasional search. The copyright symbol still isn't legally binding but it is a deterrent for some theft. 

If the copyright is actually that important in your business, just copyright it. Unfortunately, that won't stop theft either, but you can sue if it's stolen.  The US office of the Copyright is online and has a lot of material you can look through that might help solve these issues for ya. 

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2 minutes ago, HeySal said:

No it's not binding........but it does give proof that you had the material before it was published. It's more of a protection for the writer. What writers seem to forget is that they can be accused of plagiarism or derivation, too.  You aren't just protecting against theft - your protecting yourself against accusation. The poor man's copyright can go along way at that end.  

It doesn't give proof and that's the entire point. It's an old wives' tale.

You could easily steam open an old letter and slip in something you've just written, seal it back up, and offer it as proof of copyright. 

An enterprising sort could create their own postmark. 

There are simply too many ways to circumvent the supposed validity of an unopened, postmarked envelope. 

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18 minutes ago, Dan Riffle said:

It doesn't give proof and that's the entire point. It's an old wives' tale.

You could easily steam open an old letter and slip in something you've just written, seal it back up, and offer it as proof of copyright. 

An enterprising sort could create their own postmark. 

There are simply too many ways to circumvent the supposed validity of an unopened, postmarked envelope. 

That's why you have it notarized first.  I thought I pointed that out earlier.  Probably more important than the self-mail, actually.  I've had things notarized and then send them to myself.........easy way to keep them filed, too. I've never self-mailed without notarization.  That's not so I can do something about theft.......it's so I can't be accused of it.  You don't need the copyright to prove you didn't steal something if it's notarized. If you're planning to sue for theft, you have to register it. Period. .   

I've known people who got accused of stealing their own work.  It's not as hard to fight an accusation as it is to go after a thief. 

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Seems the only solution is to be in no way worthya replication.

Gotta wonder how online crypt dumps might figure here.

Lickin' envelopes is lickin' envelopes, but docs uploaded to anyplace surely gotta have sum stamp on 'em — jus' like if ... uhm ... Whatto posted HOT PATELLA SHOTS to Instagram.

Thing I figure always is the kinda generosity/protecto axis.

Sum stuff, you want shared out an' available for all; other stuff got necessary limits on — an' I am thinkin' purely hoomanitarian ticket here, but at what point does SHARE FOR ALL switch out to PROTECT OWN ASS?

I guess this is how lawyer types reconcile individyool vs communitarian pursuits, levelin' out always on fairness over moolah ker-chingoin' dans pocho.

Been thinkin' kinda how boundaries're more flooid than fixed — mood an' precedent an' circumstance locked sweet together in an everfirin' crucublea possibility ... for good ... or for ill.

Can I be random on this one plz?

I forgot what I wrote about but I would always wanna make sum appeal to intellectyool pursuits over whatever, even though I lack hard evidence internally.

FFS that last gonna read smutto, but I figure perhaps that is the ultimate deal on what is outered for free vs what is outered in exchange for sum other shit.

 

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There are actually a couple of issues related to copyright, which is why it's ALWAYS better to talk to a lawyer with expertise in copyright law. 

In simple terms (FYI - I am not a lawyer and do not play one on TV) when you create something, you are automatically the copyright owner, unless it was a "Work Made For Hire", i.e.; you were paid to create the work for someone else - in the latter case, they own the copyright. 

Here's a link to the law, which is called Title 17: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/title17.pdf 

Today, most developed countries around the world are signatories to the "Berne Convention of 1886", which laid the original groundwork for copyright law and international cooperation for cross-border infringement. 

In the US, you can "Register" your work (the price varies, but the minimum cost is $35), which proves ownership of the copyright. Here's a link to that information: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ04.pdf

When you're creating small scale content, such as writing articles, it's probably not worthwhile to register them unless they're generating some serious revenue for you. Instead, as Dan pointed out, using Google Alerts to identify infringement and then deal with them individually or their hosts/registrars (who are surprisingly cooperative in infringement cases). 

One thing to bear in mind is that if you're syndicating your content, then you are in fact giving permission for others to use it, unless you've clearly defined restrictions to it. That's why it's important to have a solid legal policy on your site that defines copyrighted materials and usage. 

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