Poor Man’s Copyright is a Myth

I am not a lawyer. This isn’t intended to be taken as legal advice. If you have an actual, legal question about copyright, you should address it with a real attorney.

I’m writing about poor man’s copyright today. There isn’t a whole lot to this post, but I think the topic is important. I’d hate to see someone lose their rights to their work because they heard about this on Facebook and thought it was a good idea.

This one doesn’t fit the usual bad writing rules criteria, but you should still avoid doing it.

Some background

Once a week or so, somebody pipes up in a group asking how they can protect their work from thieves. Inevitably, someone else says “Just mail it to yourself!”

This is also called poor man’s copyright. Lots of people recommend it, and I really don’t know where it originated.

Unfortunately, poor man’s copyright is a waste of time and postage. Mailing a story to yourself doesn’t prove you wrote it. It only proves you mailed it. Source.

I’m not a copyright or legal expert

If you want to register a copyright on your work, I would suggest reaching out to your government’s copyright office. Here is the website for the one in the United States.

Please take the time to properly educate yourself. Check out the link above. Contact a lawyer if you feel like you need to. Don’t take legal advice from randos over the internet.

That’s all I have to say about this topic. If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment below. Also, feel welcome to share this or link to it if you think it’s something writers should be aware of.

Please have a safe and happy holiday if you’re celebrating. I’ll be back next week with a post to wrap up the year.

Image credit: Roberto Nickson

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