The idea of the poor manís copyright was that a person could prove when they created a work by mailing that work to themselves upon completion and not opening the envelope (unless of course the person needed to prove when he/she created the work).
Hereís how the poor manís copyright works:
- You (the poor man seeking copyright protection) takes a copy of your recently created work ( a manuscript, music cd, website, etc.) , puts it in an envelope, and mails the envelope to yourself, so that you can get a postmarked date.
- When the envelope with the poor manís ďcopyrightedĒ work arrives, you gingerly place the unopened envelope in a safe spot, in case your work is every infringed and you are called upon to prove when you created the work.
WHY SHOULD I REGISTER WITH THE U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE
WHEN I CAN JUST DO THE POOR MANíS COPYRIGHT?
Why pay the Copyright Office filing fee or have someone prepare your copyright application, when all you have to do is mail yourself your work?
The poor manís copyright may have been a viable alternative back in the days when computers, laser printers and the like didnít exist. Today, anyone can fake a postmark with ease. Or how about taking a picture of a postmark with a digital camera then scanning it, and printing it on a new envelope?
If you want to save a few bucks by using a poor manís copyright, pray hard that you never need to prove the date on which you created your work. Because if you need to go to court to prove the authenticity of your poor manís copyright, youíll need to hire ink experts, computer fraud experts, postal inspectors, etc. All this because you didnít want to pay a few dollars for a U.S. Copyright registration.
So, if all you have is your poor manís copyright and your work is infringed, you will still need to file your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office before you can bring a copyright infringement action in federal court and you will lose all of the protections afforded under the U.S. Copyright laws that you would have received had you registered your work in the first place.
Last update: 10:41 PM Sunday, June 8, 2008