How do you prove that you own the copyright on a written work?
You write a book, and you know it is original because, well you wrote it. But how on earth do you prove to anyone that you did indeed write this book at this time, and that anything that appears later is a copy of your work?
You know that if a similar book from a popular author appears you are going to have the devil of a job to show that the original work is yours.
One way of solving this problem is to show your material to others who have the time to read it, and who are willing to sign a form to say that they read it on a certain date.
These forms are then placed in an envelope with the original manuscript and then that book is often given to a solicitor, with a further copy and copies of the signed documentation sent through the post to oneself by recorded delivery so that there is an undeniable record of the date.
You can then put your work into storage with Admiral Document Storage, and you have your proof. When a dispute arises you can hand over your document and its authentication, so that the party with whom you are in dispute can see your copy.
If that party then disputes that the work is of the date you say, you can give the party you are in dispute with the details of your solicitor. Your solicitor will be able to swear that you have not been near his copy since it was handed over, and when the second copy is produced and seen to be the same, the evidence is fairly complete.
How long does copyright last?
The original length of copyright (under the Copyright Act 1842) lasted for the lifetime of the author plus 7 years, or for 42 years from first publication, whichever was longer.
This all changed with the Copyright Act of 1911 which gave copyright for the life of the author plus 50 years, for works that were first published after 1 July 1912.
The next changes were made under the Copyright Act of 1956 and under the 1988 Act and then with a final change in 1995.
In 1995 the period of copyright grew once again to the date of the death of the author plus 70 years. This in effect extended the copyright period for all l works that were made or published after 1911 by any person who had died after 1945.
The alternative way of proving copyright
Of course another way of establishing copyright is to self-publish the book. In effect all this means is having 10 copies published with an ISBN number at the front. The British Library needs a copy and other national libraries have the right to ask for a copy which you must supply upon request. But even if all of them ask for a copy you will still have five copies left. You’ll probably want to keep one at home, then the rest can go into store.
With this system there is no need to keep the work with a solicitor, for the British Library will have their copy which will show the date of publication as recorded by your allocation of an ISBN number and the date the book was received by the Library.
You keep your remaining copies in store until you need to prove your copyright. Then you produce one of your copies of your work, and if that results in a dispute you then go with the person claiming the dispute to the British Library and inspect the copy together.
And all the while the ideal place to keep your copies remains Admiral Document Storage.
Admiral Document Storage Ltd
Tel: 0800 810 1125