Getting copyrights (1 Viewer)

dreamdelerium

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hey guys, i was wondering if someone could help. im currently serving in the Peace Corps (a two year voluneer program working with community development, hiv/aids, etc) in africa. i designed an application the government would be using in all of its social welfare offices. im not getting paid for it and want nothing in return. im afraid, though, that when i return to america im afraid someone will claim the program as theirs and try to make money off of it (theres some corruption in the government workers). how do i go about copyrighting it, is it free, is it international, etc. anything woul be great. thanks
 

Rabbie

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Make sure that you clearly state on all forms/reports and in any code modules that you own the copyright
 

The_Doc_Man

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In general there are precise ways to state this. But I'm not a lawyer and I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so take this cum grano.

For starters, the copyright notice MUST state that it is copyrighted material, must name the owner, must name the date of the copyright, and the key phrase "ALL RIGHTS RESERVED" must be part of the notice. If you cannot use a circle-c copyright character from the WingDings font set, then you can use (c) in its place. That is left-parenthesis lower-case-c right-parenthesis with NO SPACES in that sequence.

Second, when the program in question runs, it must clearly include a visual notice of being copyright (perhaps as part of a startup or splash screen.) Again, the name of the owner, date, and "ALL RIGHTS RESERVED" must be clearly and prominently displayed. Again, the circle-c is preferred but (c) is allowed.

Third, every module, form, and report must include this information. For modules, you probably will want to use the (c) construct, but on forms and reports it might be possible to use the circle-c symbol by judicious juxtaposing of multiple label controls.

Fourth, depending on your locale, other laws will certainly apply. For instance, in the USA, to do a "real" copyright you should send excerpts of the material to the US Copyright Office (look them up on the web). The application costs $25 US.

Fifth, ASAP contact a lawyer familiar with international copyright law - or look that up on the web to see further requirements. What I stated is a rough and ragged minimum that only gives you a leg to stand on (so to speak), it is necessarily enough to truly lock down the code. I believe the "all rights reserved" must include "under internation laws" but the precise form might have changed since the last time I looked.

Sixth, once your code and application stabilize, burn a copy to CD-ROM (and write-lock the CD if it is multi-write type). The burned copy MUST include the fully panoply of all copyright notices - in the code, in any documentation, and with all forms, reports, etc. also set up to prominently exhibit the notice. This burned and write-protect copy is your safety net. Once you have burned it, get a friend to be your witness to SIGN AND DATE the top side of the CD. You sign and date it too. OK, if you can find a place that will seal that in plastic for you, do so. NEVER open that puppy until/unless you have to go to court to prove when you had such code. Perhaps you can get it vacuum-sealed in a non-adhesive container for which the edges are heat-sealed.
 

boblarson

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Just a quick addendum to Doc's post -

To get the © sign with almost ANY character set, just hold your ALT key down and type 0169.
 

Moniker

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Just so everyone realizes, you can type any character with ALT+[ASCII Value] (as in © being ALT-0169 in Bob's example).

This stuff is available in Character Map (Start -> Accessories -> System Tools), but I find it easier to just make the table quickly in Excel. It's attached here for reference. Anytime you need a non-standard character, it's easier to glance at the chart rather than go through Character Map (at least for me).

Just remember to preface the number with a zero. ALT-169 is this ⌐ whereas ALT-0169 is this ©.
 

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statsman

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In a previous line of work I had copyright problems in the past.

What you do is:

Print the code for all of the forms, queries, macros etc.
Take the front page of the local newspaper (with the date on it)
Place all of the above into an envelope or package.
Seal very securely
Mail it to yourself.

The post mark and the newspaper support your claim that you created this on the date you allege. Usually a date preceding the date the person who is trying to steal your work is claiming.

Do not unseal the envelope/package. Let your lawyer do that in front of witnesses.
 

boblarson

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For U.S. copyright law, here's an excerpt from the Copyright Office website (note the part that says you must register in order to file an infringment lawsuit):
U.S. Copyright Office said:
Copyright Registration
In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:

Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin.
If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. For additional information, go to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/import. Click on “Intellectual Property Rights.”
Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published edition, if desired.
The current fee to register is $45 USD if done on paper and $35 USD if done online.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Hmmm - prices went up since I last looked.
 

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