Best Steps to Protecting Your Copywritten Material Once It's Posted Online

30th November 2009
By Amy Armitage in Copyright & Trademark
RSS Legal RSS    Views: N/A

When artists create an article, book, poem, lyrics to a song, a Web site, logo or artwork, they may or may not copyright their work before posting it online. The purpose of copyrighting any material is to protect it from being re-distributed without the creator's authorization. The reality, however, of putting copyrighted material online is that although it is not impossible to protect, is still remains very difficult to protect.

Many people choose to register their work with the copyright office for a fee before they post it online. This gives them a sense of security that they will have recourse if someone attempts to infringe on the material. Others, who don't wish to spend money for the copyrighting process, have a few options to protect their work online:

1. Creators can mail a copy of their work in a sealed envelope to themselves, securing what's called a "common copyright." The postmark on the unopened envelope will help establish the date the work was created and that they were the original creators. They can then claim all rights to the work.

2. Some writers and artists use the © symbol on articles (or ™ or ® on their company logos or names they have created for their Web sites). Most people believe that this is "enough" to copyright and protect work.

3. Another way to protect copyrighted material online is to post it as a PDF file, with the copyright information in the header or footer. This can serve as a strong deterrent for those trying to infringe on the copyrighted material.

4. Many times, articles posted on blogs, for example, will state at the conclusion of the article, that the article is "copyrighted by (name)." This statement may be followed by other verbiage that permits or denies re-distribution and specifies the details of any such arrangement.

5. Photographs that photographers do not wish to be re-distributed will usually have a logo or a name in the center of the picture to keep others from using the work, called "watermarking" when it is light.

6. Some writers or artists create letters stating that they are the legal copyright holder of the work. They list their name and date on the letter. They then have the letter notarized by a notary public. Most notaries only charge a small fee to do this and banks may offer the service free to account holders.

The best way to protect your copyrighted material once it is posted online is to be educated as to your rights as a writer or artist. The copyright laws of the United States of America are stringent and strict and are put in place to keep people from infringing on the rights of creators. However, when it comes to online material from books to music to art, the law is not as widely understood as it is when applied to "hard copy" material. Protecting copyrighted material online has been a very contentious issue since the Internet evolved.

The recording and movie industries have always struggled to shape their Internet strategies to keep people from pirating their material. The law states that infringement is a criminal offense; however, when copyrighted material is copied or downloaded from the Internet, it is often quite difficult to prove. Chapter 5, Section 512 of the copyright infringement and remedies rules and regulations as defined by the copyright law of the United States of America discusses the limitations on liability relating to material online.

Actually, U.S. copyright law protects works from the moment of creation (or "conception") so all the details concern enforcement and, to a lesser extent, registration. The government copyright form and recordkeeping allows the fastest, easiest means of copyright confirmation, although the other mentioned methods work, too.

One way to "catch" a person who has infringed on copyright rights is to capture the IP address of the computer used to copy the work. Some more savvy copyright owners have special network tools they use to identify the IP address of computers they believe have engaged in unlawful copyright infringement. It may be difficult to identify the actual user based only on the IP address, as people often use computers in public locations such as libraries, schools, Internet café's and offices where there are several computers all sharing the same IP address. Even when a person has been "caught" it can be difficult to send notice of possible copyright infringement to the identified user of the IP connection. In addition, the IP addresses of computers often change.

One can do his or her best to keep their online material(s) from being copied, downloaded or shared without authorization; however, the laws still need to become stronger and more widely disseminated. The World Wide Web, although an incredible tool for communication and education, still has some limitations as far as privacy and protection of copyrighted material, but education and continued oversight are proving quite effective.

About the Author:

Amy Armitage is the head of Business Development for Lunarpages. Lunarpages provides quality web hosting from their US-based hosting facility. They offer a wide-range of services from linux virtual private servers and managed solutions to shared and reseller hosting plans. Visit online for more information.

This article is free for republishing
Bookmark and Share

Ask a Question about this Article

powered by Yedda