Monday, September 29, 2008

Basics of Copyright

Now that I have created this blog, I wanted to find out a bit more background information regarding copyright.

Interestingly, according to the official website of the US Copyright Office, the minute something unique is created, it is protected by copyright. So, no formal registration is needed, meaning that every time I set pen to paper, and every time my students write something, we have protection.

However, to act on that protection (for example, take someone to court for copyright infringement) we must register our work with the US Copyright Office. To register a work, you need $35-$45 depending on the method of submission, an application form, and at least one NON RETURNABLE copy of the thing you are getting a copyright for.

Minors can apply for a copyright, which as an educator is important for me to know, but evidently different states may have laws which infringe on the rights of minors as it pertains to copyright.

So, in theory based on my preliminary findings, every piece of writing that I or my students have created is protected by copyright, but until I register my work, I have no legal means of recourse if my work is plagiarized.

More to follow later on copyright infringements from unpublished works...once I find some cases and articles!

U.S. Copyright Office. (September 2008). About Copyright. Retrieved September 29, 2008,

Copyright issues as a writer

I have decided to focus on issues of copyright as it concerns creative writing. I am doubly concerned about this issue, as a writer myself, and as someone who has worked/will work with adolescent learners and writers.

I want to explore the issues of copyright protection that exist for work created by non-published writers. I am always especially cautious with my work, which I believe sometimes holds me back: I am nervous that my ideas are not protected, and this prevents me from joining writing groups and work shopping my pieces.

I have always worked under the assumption that once something is written down, it is protected unofficially by copyright law...but that requires a certain level of morality from others...I want to use this blog to explore what rights and protections REALLY exist for non-published writers, especially student authors. The threat of having work stolen may prevent individuals from writing...this is something I aim to find out.

So far, I have lots of questions, and no answers. As I find the answers, I will update.

Thank you for traveling this road with me!