Long before the Internet people used the mail service as a cheap way to protect and establish their copyrights for written material. You just make a copy of your work and mail it to yourself. If you keep the envelope sealed you have a preserved copy of your work, dated by Canada Post (insert the name of the postal service in your location). It was a cheap and fairly good way to prove your work was your own original work.
Now we have the Internet. Publishing online is risky if you want to control your written work, your words. Copyrights are in battle with artists, governments, corporations and the public all pulling in their own directions. Each group has their own agenda and all too often they don’t really seem to listen to each other. At times they actually want the same thing and yet, can’t see it.
Anyway, today I found a link to MyFreeCopyright.com on a blog by Veronica. I have seen it before but today I clicked the link and went for a visit.
I thought it was funny how the basis of the copyright plan was following the traditional idea of mailing your work to yourself. Something so old is still around, just in an updated version for the digital age.
This could work for most people. You would have something to show for the date your work was created. It would be using a service not of your own making to prove the date.
However, it doesn’t really do anything to control your written work online. It’s still out there, waving around like laundry on a clothes line. Anyone can still come along and take what they want. Publishing online is still reliant on the honour system, old fashioned trust and good will.
Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it worth steaming and stewing about? Not really. As individual artists we just don’t have the resources to do a lot about it. I have had my work taken. I’ve even had my ASCII Art taken and claimed to be created by the person who took it. I only know about that because she was silly and posted it to the ASCII art newsgroup as her own. I was active in that group. Everyone that mattered knew I had created the work. She looked like a fool. So, in that case I had my petty revenge and the thief did admit what she had done. From that I learned to stop focusing on controlling my work online. Once I put it out there it really is available, fully and completely. I just have to do what I can to protect it, which isn’t much.
I would like to see the copyright laws made to protect artist’s work online. But, I can’t see it really happening for us. For the corporations… yes. The music industry, the film industry… etc. those will be protected, as an industry. As individuals… I think we really just have ourselves and an old fashioned reliance on the honour system, good will and trust. Maybe a touch of karma, now and then.