Friday, 19 November 2010

Understanding Copyright

If you've ever felt at all vague about what copyright is, who owns it and how to establish it, go and look at this post on Jane Smith's How Publishing Really Works, then read the various other posts it links to.

As writers it is essential to understand copyright. If you've written it, it is copyrighted, which means no one can publish your work in any format without your permission.

As a beginner writer I had one little episode where my copyright was breached: one day I idly googled the first line of a story I'd written which had been published in an online journal. It popped up on a Mexican college website of all places, as an example of how to use the future tense in English. I contacted the college, received an apology, then gave them permission to use the story. They had no right to steal my story of course, but I felt kind of flattered to have become part of a curriculum. Wonder if they still teach it?

Edited 20/11/2010 to add this link to a very clear explanation of copyright by Alex Gazzola.

1 comment:

Alex G said...

Thanks for mentioning my link, womag. I will build on the copyright page on my blog over time, but wanted to get something up there quickly in time for the How Publishing Really Works copyright initiative.

I agree that knowledge of copyright is essential. Just the basics are enough to be going on with - and they're not difficult. I'm constantly dismayed by writers who don't even know what copyright means, or why it's so vital. And those who feel it's unimportant or irrelevant to them are the ones who most urgently need to learn about it.

Cheers, Alex