Saturday, October 25, 2008

Copyright and book reviews...

I know I said I was closing up shop, but a new issue has come up in my life regarding copyright that I wanted to share.

I am scheduled to have a book review published in a major journal in December, and I couldn't be more excited! While this is not exactly creative writing being published, it still gets my words and my name into print. However, the journal will retain all the copyrights to this and any review I write for them in the future.

I had not realized that there may be a time when I would see my work published, but lose the rights to it. I think it's interesting, given the sense of security my earlier research had me lulled into regarding my work belonging to me, always, end of story. However, I am more eager to work with this journal than to retain the rights to my reviews...but if this were a creative writing publication, I would not be going ahead to print, because I want to retain the rights to my poetry and fiction, not sign it over just to see it in print once.

Such a complicated world of copyright!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To copyright or not to copyright?

After looking into the issue of copyright, I suppose my fears about the protection of my work are mostly unfounded. I have always been nervous when submitting poetry for publication, because in the back of my mind has always been the worry that someone might try to steal my work (not that it's that good, but I have to believe some of it is at least worth stealing!)

However, I realize now that the minute I create a document, I own the copyright. I suppose this puts my mind at rest regarding my poetry submissions, but if I ever finish that novel I've been working on, I think I would very seriously consider having it officially registered with the copyright organization before seeking a publisher, just to cover my bases.

This has been a really informative study for me, and it was exceptionally interesting to see copyrights upheld even for unpublished standardized tests! I hope you have enjoyed following my journey.

Before I close this blog, are there any questions that you still find yourself asking regarding copyright and creative writing? I will do my best to provide answers!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Copyright and Writer's Digest

Many writers, published and nonpublished, look to Writer's Digest for crucial information about navigating the profession. I found myself curious today regarding what Writer's Digest would advise in terms of copyright.

Writer's Digest relies heavily on the true interpretation of copyright law, which states that once you have created something which is tangible, you own the copyright to it. Many of us reading this blog have expressed interest in seeking to register our work for copyright in the final stages before publication, but Writer's Digest says that's unnecessary.

According to Writer's Digest, once a work is due to be published, often times the publisher will apply for copyright on behalf of the author. The author still owns the copyright, but has been saved the financial hassle, not to mention the paperwork required.

A question to my readers: what about those of us as writers who may not seem to ever get closer to publication? It's all well and good that the publisher will handle the details of registering for copyright, but what about those of us without a publisher in sight? It is our responsibility to protect our work, but since the law says that as soon as we create work, we own the copyright, should we even bother to apply for the formal, expensive protection of a registered copyright? What do you think?

Writer's Digest. (2008). Tip of the day. Retrieved October 9, 2008 from

Friday, October 3, 2008

Interesting video clip on student rights

So today I want to focus on the rights of students to protect their work, whether or not they register for copyright. Ball State has a brief video clip informing students of their protections which can be accessed at

What do you think of the video? I find it interesting that this is geared at university students. I suppose many students, regardless of age, never think about owning the rights to their work, and may give it up to teachers and professors without thinking to protect their copyright. When I was teaching, I always asked my students for permission to keep/display their work, but I was never intending to publish any of the work, simply to use it as examples for future assignments.

In college and the rest of the adult world, I believe that the responsibility to know copyright policies and demand protection for work rests with the individual who has created the work. However, in k-12 schools, I believe it is the duty of the teacher, media specialist, and other professionals to continuously educate students on copyright policy, and to make sure they go to bat for the protection of their student's work.

Ball State University. (2008). Copyright for students. Retrieved October 3, 2008 from

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Copyright re: school standardized tests

So I found an interesting website today, detailing a court case regarding school standardized tests. I am intrigued, since I am in the education field, and was not sure what copyright issues would come up regarding testing.

In the case I read about, a school had created "re-usable" standardized tests: that is, the questions would be used from year to year, and teachers were forbidden from copying the tests and using the questions to practice with the students. While the tests were not going to be published for any profit, and the test materials were unpublished at the time (still in the developmental stages of the test being written), the court ruled the tests were still protected by copyright.

Evidently, a teacher with a crusade against standardized testing began publishing some of the questions to his/her students, which made those questions unable to be used on future tests. Now, I have a major problem with standardized testing, but committing copyright infringement is not the way to go about undermining the system. The courts ruled in favor of the school, proving that unpublished materials, even those with no intent of being sold for a profit, are protected if they are stolen or misused.

Hoffman, I. (2008). Fair use: unpublished works. Retrieved October 1, 2008, from