Poor Man's Copyright: Legally Binding?

 By: Melissa Gordon
Getting copyright for your own original work is something that is advised under the law, particularly if there is something about your work that makes it likely to be either copied or used for any purpose against your will. Being the creator of a piece of work is something that can provide both financial riches and personal kudos. If, however, you have not copyrighted this work, you will have problems trying to prove ownership further down the line.

Of course, copyrighting your work will cost money. This is all very well and good if you are a successful artist who has been selling their pieces for some time and has the money in the bank to pay copyright fees. The expense is not huge - especially when compared with some other legal services - but it still brings into the matter a question of whether copyright law discriminates against poor, struggling artists. If you happen to have an idea that you imagine may well be lucrative, but not the money to copyright it, then you may feel that you are being unfairly prevented from protecting your idea.

One solution that has been mooted in this situation is the practice known as "Poor Man's Copyright". As the name suggests, it is a way of demonstrating that one has taken action to protect their idea, and doing so without having to spend a large amount of money when one cannot reasonably afford to. The practice itself is fairly straightforward and simple, and based in some genuinely clever thinking. The idea is that if you take a copy of the work and send it to yourself through the mail, there will be a date postmarked on the envelope showing when it was sent. If someone then tries to copy your work or pass a version of it off as their own you have a way of showing that you had the idea first and took steps to protect it.

The fact is, however, that Poor Man's Copyright is not legally binding. No provision is made in US copyright law regarding such protection, so people responsible for original work are still required to put it through the process of applying for copyright if they want total, full copyright protection. This is not an advantageous situation for anyone who has an idea while down on their luck financially.

However, it is still worth going through the process of sending the work to yourself. It can be used as evidence where there is reasonable doubt, and more importantly it can be a way of providing notice to any potential plagiarist that you are mindful of people trying to steal your ideas. In any potential case where you may sue for plagiarism, it is always desirable to be as fully armed as possible for any legal battle. After all, it is potentially a question of substantial, repeated future earnings and you want to put your foot down to protect those.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
Artice Source: http://www.articlesphere.com

Related Articles in Copyrights

People interested in the above article are also interested in the related articles listed below:

If you’re worried that someone will “steal” your work and take credit for your effort, there’s a simply solution: copyrighting. Copyrighting online makes it easier than ever to be sure that your original piece is protected from plagiarism.
The creators of Superman sold their copyright during the Great Depression for $130. Their heirs are now in the process of reclaiming that valuable copyright. Their tale is a graphic demonstration of the important copyright reversion rules under the Copyright Act. Under the Act, artists who sold their works many years ago are entitled to recover them, even if they signed contracts that said otherwise.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (The Act) runs to more than 330 pages so one must accept the risks of a brief overview. In essence it gives certain right to the creators of certain material. These rights limit the freedom of others to copy, adapt, distribute, communicate to the public by electronic means, rent or lend to the public, perform in public, distort and mutilate matter subject to copyright. There is an additional right in many cases for the copyright owner to be acknowledged.

More in Copyrights

Excellent, Larry. Thank you for taking the new article directory technology and making it work to the max. I encourage everyone to keep contributing and contributing regularly. I can attest to the fact that this site is already a strong directory in a field of many. Kudos to Larry!

Matthew C. Keegan
The Article Writer


I find it a delight to use both as an author and a publisher. It is full of nice little surprises that make the whole process of writing, reading and publishing articles a complete delight. This is one that comes out tops and beats the rest hands down.

Eric Garner
Managing Director


I did a Google search and came across your site. It was exactly what I was looking for and was elated to find such a broad range of articles. As I am launching a free magazine in a small town in Florida, I wanted to be as resourceful as possible while still being able to provide some content that is interesting and well written. Your site has all the variables in the mix. Excellent Site hitting all the notes in the scale sort of speak.

Mo Montana
Florida, USA

Article Topics

Copyright © 2005 - by Larry Lim, Singapore - Article Search Engine Directory at ArticleSphere.com™
All Rights Reserved Worldwide. All Trademarks and Servicemarks are the property of the respective owners.
ArabicBulgarianCatalanChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)CzechDanishDutchEnglishEstonianFinnishFrenchGermanGreekHaitian CreoleHebrewHindiHungarianIndonesianItalianJapaneseKoreanLatvianLithuanianNorwegianPersianPolishPortugueseRomanianRussianSlovakSlovenianSpanishSwedishThaiTurkishUkranianVietnamese