Adoption 101: The Legal Fundamentals

Adoption 101: The Legal Fundamentals

The Poor Man's Copyright Won't Protect You in Court

Brayden Miles

Writers and composers will sometimes send themselves copies of their own work through the mail and then leave the envelopes unopened. The idea is that the envelopes could be opened in court to "prove" that they were the originators of the work, thus securing their intellectual property rights. This is a pervasive myth that could end up costing you the rights to your own work if you fall for it. Here's what you should know.

The "poor man's copyright" is a poor substitute for actual registration.

There is no actual provision in the law that recognizes this method of protecting your work from copyright theft.

What confuses many people is that there is a difference between having the copyright on an original creation and the actual registration of that copyright.

You don't actually have to do anything at all to own the copyright on an original work that you create. Merely being its author or composer is enough to confer you that right. In other words, your novel or your original score is already copyright protected from the moment it is in tangible form. As soon as you write it down (or type it into your laptop), you own it.

Why is it important to register your original works?

Since you automatically own the rights to your creation and no law requires you to register it, why should you bother? Because without that official registration you have very little way of proving your copyright to your original work should someone else try to claim it for his or her own. You also don't have easy legal recourse to recover any potential losses if, for example, someone decides to publish your original poem without your permission.

Once you've registered your original work, you not only have secure, official recognition as the holder of its copyright, you also have the power to sue for statutory damages. Statutory damages are fines that the court can assess against anyone who uses your work without your permission (violating your copyright).

When a court can use statutory damages as a punishment, you don't have to prove that you were actually harmed in any economic way by the other person's use of your original work in order to collect in a lawsuit. Normally, lawsuits that claim "damages" require you to show an actual monetary loss in order to collect anything from the defendant.

If you need more help with copyright protection for your original work, more info can be found here.


2024© Adoption 101: The Legal Fundamentals
About Me
Adoption 101: The Legal Fundamentals

If you've decided that you want to adopt a child, the first thing you should do is reach out to a family law attorney. While it may not seem logical to get an attorney involved from the start, it's important that you protect yourself legally from the beginning. After making the decision to adopt, I have been through the process several times. I created this site to help other adoptive parents understand what they can expect from the entire process, including the legal support you're likely to need. I hope this information helps you feel more confident in this major life decision.