International law protects your copyright but the law also requires a clear evidence of your authority and can do nothing with people who don’t understand copyright. You will have to prove your authority in a court before you can make a claim. If you fail to proof your copyright ownership, you won’t be able to get pay for a stolen work and will have to pay court dues. Ensuring the best copyright protection for your work relies on 4 factors:
Properly mark your work
A clear and observable copyright notice will deter copyright infringement, as it states that the work is protected under law. Displaying a notice, you show that you’re aware of copyright law and take infringements of your work seriously. You should place a copyright notice inside your work media. It is the best way to mark your work because it cannot be copied and re-published without a notice. If your work is made up of several parts, then the notice should appear on each part. Here are some ideas
- Books - you should put a copyright notice inside the front cover.
- Commercial documents – you should have a copyright notice on each document sheet.
- Manuscripts - a single notice on the front will normally suffice.
- Music on a CD - you should place a notice on the CD itself, and one should be included on any accompanying sleeve or booklet.
- Printed photographs and designs - place a copyright notice at the front or on the reverse of the print.
- Digital photos - a copyright notice on the picture itself, looking like a watermark.
- Web sites - a copyright notice on every web page.
- MP3 music - include your copyright into MP3 metadata and filename.
- Digital video - you should include a copyright in the image corner that appears from time to time.
Include copyright acknowledgements for any images, excerpts etc. that you have used which in your work are not your own, and ensure that you obtain permission before you use anyone else’s work.
Always keep the work by-products
A normal work cannot be made in a minute and usually produces a set of documents showing the progress of the work. This may include:
- Draft versions;
- Basic sketches;
- Early recordings;
- Film negatives and RAW files;
These are all evidences of your copyright. They show your work progressed over time, rather than being copied from elsewhere. They can be a fairly good evidence to show it is you who created the document or took a photo. You can also insert some hidden elements into your work that may help to prove the authority of the document in a court. For example, it may be non-existing words in a dictionary or hidden functions in a software product. A hidden watermark that can be read by special software is a good idea too.
Register your work
If your work is infringed, your copyright claim can be disputed. For instance, another party can say the work is theirs. You may need an evidence of authority to prove your claim. A registration in a copyright office is a valuable evidence of your copyright. These companies keep records of the date and content of your work and provide documents proving your rights.