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Old January 8th, 2004, 06:42 PM   #16
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The postmark is really the proof of mailing. I guess in theory you'd have to open it up in court in the presence of witnesses (a judge, jury, etc.)

I don't see what notarizing the envelope would do.

The only thing I could see, theoretically, is if you took a copy of your script, and had with it a certificate to be notarized, stating that the document existed in that condition as of that date, and that it was signed by the author. That's all that would prove. That can't even prove authorship, only date of authoring. So if someone writes a script 1 year later with your material and claims he was the first to author it, you could show that notarized script and say "no, this proves this document was written a year ago" and, circumstantially, by you. You still have to prove other elements of infringement (access, etc.)

Like I said, it's basically of little value, compared to a registration.

Any other thoughts on this Paul?
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Old January 8th, 2004, 06:49 PM   #17
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Rob, That's how it's done here and many other countries. I actually used one in court about 5 years---perfectly legal. However, you can always pay a lawyer to do it for you, but it makes no difference. Someone I knew also does this all the time. Once he went to some court in the USA to prove he owned the rights---he won, of course.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 07:09 PM   #18
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<<<-- Originally posted by Peter Moore : snip

The only thing I could see, theoretically, is if you took a copy of your script, and had with it a certificate to be notarized, stating that the document existed in that condition as of that date, and that it was signed by the author.

You could have a Notary certify that a copy is a true copy of the document. That gives a date and time along with the Notary Seal.

I suppose you could also sign the doc and have the Notary certify that the signature is authentic. Gets a Seal and date too. But it does not in and of itself, certify the document.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 07:22 PM   #19
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Quote:
Paul,

Can you expand on the concept of Notarizing proof of mailing?
Mike, I'm not even sure whether a notary can do this. The point is, it wouldn't be very much better than mailing something to yourself, i.e. it's only evidence of prior creation. The _best_ way to obtain protection is simply to register the copyright with the US Copyright Office. The cost is nominal, comparable to notarization, and the process is easy -- it's a two-page form that requires little more than your name, address, the date of creation and the provision of a deposit copy for the Library of Congress. Registration is the best protection you can have.
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Old January 9th, 2004, 12:00 PM   #20
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You confirmed what I believe, that a Notary cannot do much in this instance.

I do agree that registration is the only smart way to create the fulcrum from which one can defend their ownership.

Thanks for your reply
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Old January 10th, 2004, 09:04 AM   #21
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I'm not following you, Frank. What way are you talking about?
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Old January 10th, 2004, 11:05 AM   #22
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He's talking about writing the copyright notice:

Copyright 2004 Peter Moore. All Rights Reserved

On the document.

But that doesn't prove authorship or date of authorship. And we already talked about why the mailing to yourself is worth very little compared to registration.
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Old January 10th, 2004, 12:04 PM   #23
 
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Copyright Comments

Geez, guys...hasn't anyone here reg'd a copyright? You should, even for just the experience. Copyright a poem or something.
First, as of 1989, you don't need to register anything to own a copyright as long as the material is in a "tangible form." (that is a legal term)
Second, you don't need the copyright symbol anymore on anything.
Third, registering a copyright merely assures that the LOC (library of congress) will back up your date of registration, proving when you registered (not created) the work.
Fourth. "Poor man's copyright" doesn't carry any water with the courts. This is a myth, capitol "M." It merely shows that you sent yourself a piece of mail and it has a postmark on it. However, this has been shown to be fraud-possible in several instances. Registration of copyright is the only way you'll have an iron-clad proof of ownership and origination date.
This is all pretty simple, and a quick visit to the www.loc.gov site will clear it all up.
I speak/lecture at many forums on copyright laws, their uses, pitfalls, and benefits a lot, because videographers are the third largest abusers of copyright out there.
If you want to read a brief summation I wrote for NARAS on copyright laws and video, http://www.sundancemediagroup.com/ar.../copyright.htm gets you to it. Just remember I'm the messenger, not the lawmaker.
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Old January 10th, 2004, 01:53 PM   #24
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Wow, it's great to have you on the forum! I bought your 4-DVD trainer on Vegas last year and found it very helpful.

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Old January 10th, 2004, 03:22 PM   #25
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Douglas, that's an excellent article on copyright. A couple of points, though. I'm not convinced that waiters singing "Happy Birthday" at Fridays would constitute a de minimus sue. The use is commercial in character and constitutes a public performance. Fair use considers the commercial impact of a particular use. However, copyright grants an absolute monopoly over any use -- it's up to the copyright author to determine when, and whether at all, their work can be performed in public. Also, with respect to incidental reproduction, the case law is inconsistent. I'm not at all comfortable telling anyone that it's okay to include incidentally-recorded copyright material in their works. As a general rule, including such material in legitimate news gathering will tend to be found non-infringing, whereas commercial uses will not. Otherwise, your article is a model of clarity and very accurate. Nice job!
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Old January 10th, 2004, 03:38 PM   #26
 
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Different take on "Poor Man's

Actually, copyright does NOT creat an absolute monopoly. Not by a LONG shot.
Second, in 2 states, the use of Happy Birthday with the "Good Morning To You" melody has been judged DeMinimis, and appealed and heard, then thrown out for a variety of reasons. Most restaurants avoid the song for this very reason. But YOU, as a family member/parent, have every legal right to sing the song in a public place, even though it constitutes Performance. The same would apply to whistling a pop tune, for instance. There is no "harm" to the copyright holder. Warner Bros has yet to bring this issue to court in the years they've owned the song's rights. Now, if you record those words with that melody, then you're screwed.
I'm not saying "Go ahead and do it." It's not my job to tell folks what to do and what not to do. I'm not a lawyer, as the article clearly states in black and white, bold.
Copyright is clearly the most misunderstood set of laws out there, and its due in part to us not telling our legislators what we think. Baldwin company screwed artists for years, opening the door for Fair Use, which is different than fair use.
You may not be comfortable telling folks they can include incidental, and I'm not saying it is. What I am saying is that there is a lot of precedent regarding incidental music in news, documentary, and other related uses. As the article states, if you are making a feature where you have control, you'd better not use it.
The article has been vetted by multiple copyright and intellectual properties attorneys from both the music, video, and software industries, it's not as though I simply took my own opinions and posted them to an article for hire. This appeared in a NARAS publication and they made damn sure it was accurate. So with regard to what the article says, I'm extremely comfortable and make no apology nor quarter.
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Old January 10th, 2004, 07:34 PM   #27
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A bit of an overreaction to Paul's comments, I think. And I agree with him about the commercial use of Happy Birthday, whatever court cases have gotten thrown out notwithstanding.
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Old January 10th, 2004, 07:52 PM   #28
 
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Different take on "Poor Man's Copyright"?

I apologize if my response seems to be reactive. I would suppose that's due to having the crap kicked out of me for bringing this subject to people's attention. I hear more about people's "opinion's" of the law than I do about their desire to obey it.
Point overall is, whether it's your opinion, my opinion, or anyone else's opinion, NO ONE is going to be prosecuted for singing "Happy Birthday" in a restaurant unless it's the staff singing it, and it's a common occurence. You and me and any other person singing the song can do so. The test is, "What harm was suffered by the copyright holder if any, and if so, what are the damages."
In a family setting whether in a restaurant, our kitchens, or on a Mongolian mountaintop, we are permitted to sing "Happy Birthday" or any other song we wish. Schools' aren't exempt either, yet the song is sung perhaps hundreds of times a day across the country in most every elementary school. They aren't prosecuted either, even though it's illegal do sing as a group like this.
It's when a commercial venture uses the song that a problem crops up. Yes, it's illegal if we sing it in a public place. That's not the question.
Read the article yourself, I'm suspecting that neither of you read it correctly. It doesn't say the wait staff of a restaurant can sing the song, it says that YOU can sing that song. Whether or not you agree, the courts have set precedent. The better test is, if you can find me one single solitary case where a family has been sued for singing "Happy Birthday" in a public place and the family/performer has lost, I'll happily eat my words and tell the attorneys for the Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences that their research is absolutely wrong. There are only two cases that show up where a domestic use was taken into court that show up on Nexus involving that song title. One involved a steakhouse trying to prevent a family from singing it because they believed it would put their business in jeopardy, and the court threw it out, because the family sued the restaurant for not allowing them to sing it, and the other was a similar situation, but the court heard the case, and sided with the family. I don't make the legal precedent, I merely reported it. And as I said, I make no apology for anything in there. If I can be shown I'm wrong after all the expense, time, and experience that has gone into it, I'll absolutely recant. And again, if I appear 'reactionary' over this subject, it's probably attributable to other forums forgetting that it's merely a report of the law and the community ends up shooting the messenger.
This article is a smaller part of a much larger article hired by a publisher, vetted by multiple attorneys, and checked for accuracy by several people. It's not as though I simply woke up one morning and decided to write a few thousand words to thrill myself. It's been published in full length in print, and I arranged for a section to be published for videographers, since the video industry abuses copyrights more than any other industry does, mostly out of ignorance and opinion, supposition and guessing instead of actual malice or intent.
At this point, I guess I'm sorry I've commented, apparently ignorance is bliss. But it could be an expensive bliss. I know I've learned the hard way.

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Old January 10th, 2004, 08:41 PM   #29
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Just as a note of reference, both Paul Tauger and Peter Moore are attorneys. Paul's speciality is intellectual property and copyrights. I don't believe Peter has mentioned his area of expertise.
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Old January 10th, 2004, 09:27 PM   #30
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Doug,
Sorry, I thought you guys were talking about the wait staffs singing happy birthday. I agree that no family singing happy birthday would be committing infringment, under a multitude of theories (fair use, no damages, etc.)

Jeff,
Most of my work is patents but I studied copyrights pretty extensively in school (mainly DMCA nightmare scenarios). I'm currently preparing for the Patent Bar Exam, which, yes, is a SEPARATE bar exam just for patent prosecutors (as if we didn't need to take enough exams. :) ).

Big PS - Please all be clear that nothing that Paul or I say should be taken as legal advice applicable to your specific cases, only as academic discussion.
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