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Copyright  - does the envelope trick work

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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
Topic starter  

;D  

This will be interesting to see the results.  Have a stab at the question before going off to look for the answer! :-)   This copyright website http://www.copyrightauthority.com has a great little diagram and loads of info that explains it in simple terminology (which is great for idiots like me)  ::)


   
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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

I would not trust the envelope idea. As an opponent's lawyer, I would argue that you may well have posted a pile of unsealed and empty envelopes to yourself. As soon as the argument with my clients arose, you put your tape, sheet music, whatever into one of the envelopes and sealed it.

I would go to a public fax machine and fax a copy to myself. I have an independent date and source on the heading banner.

Having said that the best method is a lawyer or notary, who can witness content, date and time.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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(@ajcharron)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 121
 

Beats me why this keeps popping up all the time. It's illegal in almost every country to mail an unsealed or empty envelope. Have a witness sign on the seal of the envelope.

Anyway, once again and I'm soooooooo tired of repeating all this... SOCAN, ASCAP, BMI, and all other groups that have royalties as their reason for existing, all recommend this method. Therefore, lawyers do not beat it. Arguing something is not proving it.


   
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(@anonymous)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Topic starter  

I'm an attorney who just stumbled upon this topic.  I would NEVER recommend this method to any of my clients.  

Here is a quick blub on copyright:

A song is copyright, not upon its creation, but when it becomes fixed on some tangible medium.  That could be recording the song on tape, writing the music and lyrics out as sheet music, or recording it into the hard drive of your computer.  However, the use of this copyright is extremely limited.  It serves as protection against someone who has actual knowledge (or can be proved to be someone who would reasonably know about the song) of the song.  Someone who knows about the music you created cannot blatently copy your material.  However, if you're in New York and a band in California, just by way of chance, writes a very similar song, then there will be no violation of your copyright.  They had no knowledge of the song you wrote in NY, and the court will find no reason to believe that they should have known about your music when you are so far apart.

A federally registered copyright give "constructive notice" to everyone in the world.  If you music is on file with the Library of Congress, then you could sue for infringement if a similar song is written after the point of time that your copyright is registered.  

I'm an attorney and I don't know what the envelope method would prove, especially due to the fact that you can mail an unsealed envelope to yourself.  Perhaps some notorization would help here, but I would always say that your best bet is to follow the proper steps to protect your music via the government.

Brian K. Carvell, Esq
[email protected]
www.musicianslegalrep.com


   
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(@anonymous)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Topic starter  

Please forgive my typos above.  I should have proof-read before posting.   :(


   
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(@ajcharron)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 121
 

That is not the definition of copyright, but of mechanical reproduction which is not at all the same thing. Again, SOCAN, BMI, ASCAP, etc, would not exist without copyrights and they have nothing to gain through law suits. I follow their advice (poor man's copyright method).


   
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(@hueseph)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1543
 

Actually that is the definition of copyright. That is an Idea once documented or applied to a media gives the creator the sole right to it's contents and is therefore protected against being copied.

cop·y·right    ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (kp-rt)
n. Abbr. c. or cop.
The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.

Organizations such as Socan, BMI and ASCAP are there for the protection of copyright.(this is debatable as though they have put a levee toward the purchase of recordable media to the benefit of sonwriters, payment has yet to be made to those "owed") An artist can pay to have their copyright registered with one of these organizations but not doing so will not take away your copyright.

Having copyright and proving copyright are two different things.

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(@tgrover)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 14
 

the whole point of the sealed envelope is when you send it you get the post office to stamp across the sealed envelope you then keep the reciept.. This then shows that on this date you had the music in your possession. anyone that then tries to steal your songs wont be able to show them in possession before this date. It is cheap and crude but it works....


   
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(@alangreen)
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Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

A-J is spot on, as always, on this point.

From across the pond, Section 3, paragraph 2 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (superceding previous legislation) in the UK reads:

"Copyright does not subsist in a literary, dramatic or musical work unless and until it is recorded, in writing or otherwise; and references in this Part to the time at such a work is made are to the time at which it is so recorded"

Thus, when you write it down on a piece of paper, or stick it on a tape, your copyright exists from that instant in time. The purpose of mailing it to yourself is to get an independent verification of a date on which your copyright existed via the postmark. A postmark in the UK includes both date and time of day information. How much simpler does it need to be? Paid-for copyright protection seems to me to be a way of charging people for something they've already got for nothing.

I challenge you, Brian K Carvell Esq; register all of my song copyrights in the US for me at no more cost to myself than the cost of an envelope and a first class stamp. Let's see what your interest is when there's no money in it for you. Parasite.

For the record, I work for JPMorgan. I am a Capital Markets Paralegal specialising in Equity Derivative structures.

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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(@lederhoden)
Trusted Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 82
 

As for it being illegal to send unsealed mail - in Germany, certain types of mail MUST be sent unsealed, in order for the contents to be checked, if necessary.


   
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(@virgel-cane)
Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 17
 

After reading these posts and the links including the http://www.copyright.gov , I was wondering if a combination of the "Poor mans copywrite" and a notary public might work.

Lets say I take my 12 songs, put them on paper with chords and words and have a notory public stamp and date them. Next I take a casset or cd with these songs and wrap the whole bundle together and then send it to myself.
Any thoughts on this? I'm thinking it would most likely cost about the same ($30) yet less of a hassel and even a tad more protective.


   
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(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

Actually I agree with Brian. It isn't at the moment of creation, it's at the moment of recording. Not in the sense of recording audio, a scrap of paper is fine, napkin is fine, matchbook works too, direct to cassette, or CD also great.

I have to agree with the site posted. I have never, ever seen a documented case of poor man's copyright working. I searched Lexis- nexis and there are no cases either.

Spend the $30 bucks to register a collection of your songs and forget poor man's. The reason they call it that is that you will be a poor man if that's all you've got to prove you wrote it.

I went and spoke to a friend of mine who happens to be a circuit court judge and another who is an administrative law judge. They both said the same thing, two people come to court, one with an envelope, one with the copyright notice provided by the US copyright office, they'd dismiss the case without even opening your envelope.

Now they also said that they would be much more likely to believe you if you just had the lyric sheet dated and notarized. That costs all of two bucks. So now that is what I do until I have enough material to submit as a collection.


   
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(@alangreen)
Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

Thanks, Nick,

There is clearly a huge difference between the way things are done in the UK to the US. Both systems do agree, though, that copyright exists at the moment of recording; which is what prevents you suing the Jimi Hendrix Estate for that riff you've been playing in the back yard for forty years called Purple Haze but which you never bothered to write down.

The Musicians' Union (UK version) advocates mailing the envelope to yourself Special Delivery, amongst other methods. It's one big can of worms.

Musicians' Union - Clickety click

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

Ah-ha, see now we are getting into how do you generate proof?

I think we are all in agreement now that once you have the song or lyric on "tangible media" is the moment of copyright creation. Humming it isn't good enough.

I would think that if you notarize the document, put it in an envelope, address the envelope on the sealed side, send it registered mail, return receipt requested, then you've got it made.

Wouldn't it be easier though to just register the darn thing?


   
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(@lederhoden)
Trusted Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 82
 

Wouldn't it be easier though to just register the darn thing?

But doesn't that involve sending your music through the post?


   
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