You’ve created your masterpiece. The script which is going to make you famous. You already have dreams of Broadway when you discover someone has stolen your idea. If you haven?t copyrighted your work, there?s a good chance you can?t do anything about it. Here?s what you should do after you’ve finished writing to protect your many hours of hard work.
The US is a country which falls in line with many others when it comes to copyright law. Anything with the copyright symbol and your name is automatically copyrighted. Whilst this will deter some would-be thieves, it won?t matter in a court situation where you?re trying to prove this is your work.
The problem with automatic copyright is it doesn’t specify the time it was written or when you copyrighted it. It?s essentially your word against someone else?s.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, you can?t prove automatic copyright with registered or recorded delivery. Sending yourself a copy of your own work won?t provide you with any evidence you could take advantage of in a court situation.
The US Copyright Office
The US Copyright Office is the only entity in the country which can formally issue you a formal copyright notice and registration with the Copyright Office. If you?re trying to sue someone for stealing your work, your work needs to be registered with the Copyright Office before you can sue them.
Always file your work with the US Copyright Office. Visit their website and follow their detailed guide on how to correctly file your request. This process takes up to six months, but there?s another option for protecting your work.
Interim Registration with the Digital Timestamps
Digital timestamps is a popular way of providing you with a sort of interim copyright notice. The main disadvantage with automatic copyright is the lack of any timestamp. With a digital timestamp from an independent company, you can prove when your work was created and registered.
Choose your digital timestamp provider carefully. Make sure they take documentary evidence of your work. Check the terms and conditions to ensure they would be willing to intervene on your behalf if you became a victim of theft.
Since the process with the Copyright Office lasts at least six months, this is a good way to defend yourself in the meantime. Once you?re fully registered, you don?t need to worry about anyone stealing your work because you?re fully covered and you?ll always win in court.