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Poor Man's Copyright


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You don't need to do anything formal to get a copyright. The words I'm writing right now are protected by some form of copyright.

You can sue someone to stop them from playing your song even if you haven't registered a copyright. Make sure you can prove that it's your song though, because he'll probably have a pretty good story claiming that he came up with it himself. If you want to be able to get big money from a lawsuit though, you should probably register so that you're eligible for statutory damages.

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The Bern Convention now says that the default condition of any work capable of being copyrighted, is that it is.

Like DjTj said, the words I'm typing right now are copyright by me, without me doing a thing.

Now, that doesn't mean that that copyright will be easy to enforce.

I'm assuming that you're using the term "poor man's copyright" to refer to the proceedure of you taking something you want to copyright (a book, a song, whatever), putting it in an envelope, and mailing it to yourself. I can see how something like that might come in usefull under some circumstances.

Hypothetical: You produce something (a song). You perform it in small clubs and whatnot.

Five years go by. Then you discover that somebody is performing "your" song, and they've been doing it for two years. You ask them to stop, and they say "Hey, I wrote this song two years ago. I own it". You claim that you wrote it five years ago. He says "Yeah, right."

In short, based on my (completely amateur) legal advice, it's a proceedure that you don't have to do, but it's cheap, and it might be usefull. (As your amateur atorney, I'd also say, though, that it's more likely that your song will get "claimed" by a fellow band member. Getting them to sign something giving you title to the song won't do a lot for generating good will in the band. Maybe a compromise would be for you to perform the song solo, and then do it for the band. Although having a dated recording won't guard you against a claim of "well, I wrote that song one day before he recorded it".)

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It's called a copywrite but it isn't really.. It's just a different way of providing proof you own something..

Write down the lyrics to a song, mail them back to yourself, it gets post marked and then put it away, if anyone else steals it you have a post marked sealed envelope with the proof.

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