Copyright registration: is it worth it?

September 2, 2017



On author sites like youwriteon.com (which I reviewed here), you sometimes see adverts for services like this one:
http://www.copyrightprotectionservice.com 

These companies typically charge a fee for "registering" your copyright for a period of years.  Some of the sites even look a bit like official agencies (they are not - they are businesses who are in it for a profit).

So is there any value in registering your copyright with them?  I dare say some authors are tempted to part with their hard earned cash, because if you have spent hundreds of hours writing a novel, then paying a fee in low double figures with a view to protecting it may seem a sensible investment.  But is it really worth the money?

In the UK, there is no official copyright register.  Copyright arises automatically when you have written your novel, short story etc.  Some countries, like the US, have official, government-run copyright registers - and my understanding is that you cannot sue for copyright infringement there until you have registered (although failure to register doesn't mean you don't have copyright in your work - it just means you may not be able to take action to enforce it).  So in those countries there may be some benefit to registration (but probably only if you think that you may make a reasonable amount of money from your work).  In the UK, however, there are only private (unofficial) registration services.  

The only benefit that these services offer is that they may make it easier for you to prove that you actually wrote your story when you say you wrote it.  For example, if you are suing someone for copying your work, they might deny copying it and claim that they were the ones who actually wrote it.  If you have registered your work with one of these private services, that could be useful evidence (but not absolute proof) that they are lying and you are the one who actually created your work.

But ask yourself whether it is worth paying £20-40 for this, when you could get much the same protection for far less money. For example, as suggested here, you could seal a copy of your work in an envelope and post it to yourself by registered post;  it will then have a date stamp, which will be evidence of when you finished it (don't unseal the envelope, just keep it in a safe place).

You should also make sure you keep earlier drafts of your work, preferably in electronic form so that they have edit dates on them.  Again, this is all useful evidence to show that you were the person who the wrote the work and that you created it when you say you did.

So unless you think you are going to make loads of money from your work, I would think twice about spending money on registration, at least so far as the UK is concerned (in the US and elsewhere, it's possible that registration may have more advantages).  I certainly haven't bothered with it myself.  

Now you might say, well, you're offering your fiction for free, so what do you care?  But I have had to assert my copyright when attempting to get pirated copies removed from Amazon, so it's not as if I don't set any store by it - I just don't think the UK registration services are worth the money.

 

All Out War

August 12, 2017


All Out War” by Tim Shipman seeks to answer the question “why did the UK vote to leave the EU?”  As you might expect, there were many reasons – but what the book conveys quite well is that there was no inevitability about the outcome (there were, after all, only about 700,000 votes in it, on a turnout of 33.5 million).  If even a relatively small number of things had played out differently, Brexit might not be happening.  Here are just a few examples:
  • 16 year olds:  Had 16 year olds...

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Moderators: engage brain before applying rules!

July 16, 2017


Just over a week ago I posted a comment on an interesting article in The Bookseller entitled "When does a writer become a professional?".  My aim was to provide some evidence to back up what the author of the article was suggesting about how you don't necessarily need to be earning a living from your writing in order to feel OK about taking it seriously - for me, it all depends what your criteria for success are.  

I explained that I had decided to offer my work for free (because getting reade...
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Fedorov's dust

April 30, 2017



Having written a novel which draws quite heavily on ideas about the "Technological Singularity", I thought I knew a fair amount about it already.  But a recent article in the The Guardian by Meghan O’Gieblyn entitled “God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism” exposed some gaps in my knowledge and encouraged me to revisit the subject – which I haven’t really been back to since I self-published the novel in 2012.

The Technological Singularity is an idea most closely as...

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Ship of Fools

March 26, 2017
Went on the pro-EU march in London at the weekend - which may be something of a futile gesture, as Theresa May seems set to give notice to leave under Article 50 this week.  But if it helps to deter some of those in government from pursuing some of the more extreme forms of Brexit which are being seriously talked about (such as walking away without any sort of deal at all with the EU - absolute madness in my view), then it will have been worth it.  There were quite a few good placards but my ...
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Single to Morden by Spike Evans

February 27, 2017



As regular readers of this blog would know (if only there were any), I like to maintain the pretence of being a reasonably conscientious reviewer of free fiction by self-published authors.  This normally entails doing a review that consists of several paragraphs (at least).   And more often than not, it affords another unmissable opportunity to give commercial publishers a bit of a kicking for not doing a better job of finding (and publishing) new fiction (happily allowing me to extend the re...

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Google ate my story!

December 18, 2016




According to a report in The Guardian, Google has recently attempted to improve the language capabilities of one of its Artificial Intelligence programs by feeding it over 10,000 free ebooks downloaded from Smashwords (out of a total of well over 50,000 free ebooks).  Apparently the idea was to help the AI produce more natural-sounding sentences.

Being The Guardian, the report was a bit po-faced about the whole thing and the journalist seemed to think that the authors ought to have been remune...

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Stumps of mystery

October 31, 2016



“Stumps of mystery: stories from the end of an era” by Susan Wickstrom describes itself as “a novel in stories” – and it’s certainly true that it occupies a space somewhere in between a full-blown novel and a book of short stories.  Structurally, it’s similar to some of David Mitchell’s fiction, where you get a series of separate but linked stories - I am thinking in particular of “Ghostwritten” and “Cloud Atlas”.  

But whereas Mitchell tends to leap around a lot in ter...

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Inselaffen!

June 27, 2016


Some thoughts on the EU referendum result.


Now we know why, when they are feeling frustrated with us (as well they might right now), the Germans refer to us as “Inselaffen” (island apes).  Here’s a picture of one of those island apes watching a graph of his currency dropping to a 30 year low against the dollar (having at long last managed to switch on his laptop).

If you have read any of my previous, rather geeky (and evidently totally ineffectual) posts on Brexit (they start here and the...

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Can't decide about Brexit? Read this

June 20, 2016


Unsure about which way to vote in the EU referendum?  Well, who can blame you given that debate on the subject has descended into an unedifying slanging match.

It’s hard to feel enthused about voting to remain because the EU is not a particularly lovable organisation – and it’s going through a particularly bad patch right now with the euro and migration crises, which highlight the fact that it is far from perfect.  So your heart may be telling you we should leave, buoyed up by stirring s...

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About Me


Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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