Poor Man’s Copyright

                                              Is the Poor Man's Copyright ok to use for copyrighting my work?

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Poor Man's Copyright:

The "poor man’s copyright" is perhaps one of the most common forum discussions about subjects regarding copyright when people are searching for copyright solutions. We hope that this page will leave you more informed about how the poor man's copyright is perceived and it's value to YOU if you should wish to use it. After you have read the very important paragraph below in red, you can find out all about my own views of the Poor Man’s Copyright and make up your own mind whether it’s a good solution or not.

It is a condition of the use of this website, that you read the Terms and Conditions. I am NOT A LAWYER and have no basis to give you legal advice from this website that you can deem safe to use in a court of law. The information and links that you find on this website are for you to choose whether you wish to acknowledge as correct or not.  Although I have researched and highlighted various points and links to place on this website, CopyrightAuthority.com nor it’s author in no way purport to have expert knowledge on any subject of copyright law. I would also like to highlight that any information that is provided on this copyright website is predominately related to aspects of the Berne Convention and is not specific to any individual country’s legal system.  

How to prepare a poor mans copyright has been mentioned in discussion forums countless times.  So, we thought we should put a little time into having it up nice and clear where the pit-falls of the poormans copyright can lay,
what the poor man’s copyright actu
ally is, why the poorman’s copyright is so popular, how the poor-mans copyright can be faked and why the poor man would not feel so happy when his work is actually stolen – and it comes time to prove that the poor man owns the copyright! To look for a cheap way to copyright, may not be the best as you will see. Cheap copyright methods have never proved as reliable as the official methods.

                        Firstly, the poor man's copyright explained in point format:

i) Place the work that you want to copyright, into an envelope (music, scripts, websites, software, architecture etc…)

                        ii) Seal the envelope

                        iii) Mail the envelope to yourself through your country’s postal service

                        iv) Do not open the mail when it arrives

                        v) Keep the mail that arrived, unopened and safe - in case you need to prove it was your work.

Let’s lay it out in very bold terms – the first one being slightly bolder than the rest:

            1)The poor man’s copyright can be faked, in several ways – easily

            2)The poor man's copyright has rarely been heralded as a success anywhere that we can find online

            3)A poor man’s copyright is not technically needed to secure a copyright.

            4)A poor-mans copyright could leave you even poorer, if that’s all you have as proof of copyright

           

1)      The Poor man’s copyright can be faked in several ways. NOTE: These are examples only to show you that the poor man copyright is not fool proof and you need to know that. Please do NOT try to use these examples to try to break the law.  By their own nature, you can see that the poor man's copyright examples may not stand up too well in court if you wanted them to. Cheap Copyright could become expensive in the long run!

Try this yourself:

Fake a Poor Man’s copyright: Easy example:

Take a blank envelope and write your own address on it.

DO NOT SEAL THE ENVELOPE

Mail the envelope to yourself

When you get the envelope, put anything you want into it, and THEN seal it.

You now have an envelope posted on a certain date, with your work in it.

Compare that fake with one that you would have used as your poor mans’ copyright

Fake a Poor Man’s copyright: Complex example:

Take a blank envelope and write your own address on it.

Put a blank CD inside and fasten the envelope with a paperclip only

Mail the envelope to yourself

When you get the envelope, open it up and take out the CD,

Set the clock on your computer to two days before you posted the envelope

Burn whatever you want onto the CD, put it into the envelope, and THEN seal it.

You now have a CD, that says you burnt it on a certain date, in an envelope sent on a certain date

Fake hundreds of PoorMan’s copyrights: Extreme example:

            Mix-and-match any of the above examples, with as many envelopes as you want

            Keep them handy for when you want to fake a poor-mans copyright for years to come

            You could now TRY to prove that any work was yours, including new work from famous names.

            YOU WOULD BE VERY SILLY TO TRY THIS!

Question:

Why would a court of law, if they have read and tried the above – trust the Poor Mans Copyright?

                                   

2)      The poor man's copyright has rarely been heralded as a success anywhere that we can find online.

Actually, we cannot find one example anywhere, where someone has said
‘yeah – the poor man’s copyright re
ally worked for me’ and mentioned the court case etc…

It’s true. Look anywhere you will – you will find lots of people giving you free advice about how to make a poor mans copyright. They will tell you all about how the Poorman’s copyright can be carried out, how the poor mans copyright will save you countless amounts of money and and how the poor-mans copyright will save you the time it takes for something to be filed with the copyright office.  “I use the poormans copyright”  “Mail it to yourself”  “Use this, the Poor Man’s copyright works best”. Etc… etc..

There are actually more people in forums who say ‘I have heard about the Poor-Mans copyright, and this is how you do it”; than there are of people who have actually used it!  Please, if you have used the poor-mans copyright, and you have had to use it to prove a case… email us at Poor_Mans_copyright@copyrightauthority.com (please, in the subject title, type Proof The Poor Mans Copyright  Works - otherwise I will delete the email, as I get a lot of spam from email harvesters – please include in the email all the details of the poor man’s copyright case example, with all references and your permission to re-produce it online here on this page).

                        3)A poor mans copyright is not technically needed to secure a copyright.

How copyright works, is explained in much more detail on the www.copyrightauthority.com homepage.  However, it is pertinent to put in the same diagram here to demonstrate how a piece of work is copyrighted under the Berne Convention as soon as you have created it and put it down in a tangible form.Copyright Process

Obviously, you will still need to PROVE that the work is yours and was produced on a certain date. If you can keep a record of this, it will help.   Consider witnesses such as a notary or lawyer who can witness the date, content and time etc..  Consider sending to your lawyer to look after (but, this again could be costly).  Consider using a public fax machine and sending it to yourself, which helps have an independent date and source. One suggestion, could be to visit an internet cafe that requires you to sign in with your name and a date.
Print a dated copy of your work and ask at the counter if they could witness and sign the date as correct. Put your work on a webpage, and ask friends to print a dated copy off, sign it and post it to you etc..   Whilst the majority can be faked, every little bit should help to build a larger database of proof, which is less likely to be be pulled apart as easily as the poor mans copyright on it's own.   However, nothing would give you as much copyright protection as registering your work with an official copyright office such as the US Copyright Office - and by the time that you have gone to all the effort of the above... the cost difference will be minimal.

4)A poor mans copyright could leave you even poorer, if that’s all you have as proof of copyright

            As we have seen, producing a fake Poor-man’s copyright is not hard to do. Which means, when it comes time to prove that you owned the rights to work that someone else has copied without your permission – you will need as much power of proof of your work as you can.

This, is why registering with the US copyright office or your own country’s copyright office is a good idea and beats the poor mans copyright!.  For around $30, it is not a lot to ask – considering the damages or the monies that you may lose, if you cannot prove without doubt that it is your work.  Other than having a very official record of your work, benefits that may be included if you have to go to court are statutory damages and attorneys fees in successful litigation.  There are plenty of companies online who will also file these details for you, for a fee on top of the US Copyright Office filing fee.

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