I know that when you finish a work that you have copyrights to it
but was wondering how many of you go the extra step and pay to have
your work registered with the US copyright office.
I know that when you finish a work that you have copyrights to it
I know that when you finish a work that you have copyrights to it but was wondering how many of you go the extra step and pay to have your work registered with the US copyright office.
I asked some local award winning jewellers about copyright.
Their answer “Don’t bother, someone will copy your design anyway,
just make as many as you can before someone cashes in on your
Regards Charles A.
P. S. I don’t necessarily agree with this view, although I can see
the logic behind it.
I have completed copyright paperwork with the U. S. Government for
about six pieces. It is a rather long process because of the
government work schedule. You can pay the government an additional
amount for a “rush” request. I feel it is worth it. We have had to
use an attorney for an issue that lasted a long, long, long time. For
us, it was worth the paperwork. It is critical to know an attorney
with expertise in this area. We are under court order to not discuss
any details and we have not and will not discuss any details.
My recommendation is complete the paperwork. The copyright office
will tell you if something can or can not be copyrighted.
Best wishes in your decision.
What I do is I take a photo and print it out then put it in a
envelope addressed to me and send it to me Registered Mail. all
seams have to be stamped by the post office with their date stamp.
if you have to go to court take the unopened gov. Post office
registered and give it to the judge. It will prove the date you
consult an attorney. the letter to oneself has not been upheld in
case law; pursuing copyright infringement is very costly, and can
only be enforced within the jurisdiction that issued the copyright
(or in a country that has reciprocity).
Don’t rely on well-meaning advice; sometimes it’s right, and
sometimes it’s not. Go to the U. S. Copyright Office website and get
the first-hand info.
Quoting from their page:
“I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it? The practice
of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a
"poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law
regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for
Poor man’s copyright, or postal copyright, as it is also called, is
inadmissible in US courts as proof of copyright.
In the US it is trivial to register a work with the Copyright
Office, part of the Library of Congress. Very little paperwork, a
relatively low fee, and a quick turnaround from the Copyright Office.
Nothing at all like the difficulty of receiving a patent. Given how
long it takes before a civil suit actually makes its way to court,
even if you began suing the day you mailed off the paperwork, you’d
have the certificate in hand well before you needed to present it at
That said, design copyrights are notoriously difficult to prosecute.
It takes only very small changes to a design for it to be considered
original and not infringing. This is why most designers of three
dimensional objects do not bother to copyright their work.
This is distinct from a design patent, which gives much more
protection but is also much more difficult to receive.
It will prove the date you copy-writed it.
An infringer will just claim you steamed open the envelope and added
Even if this works, it won’t give you the protections and remedies
that registering the copyright will. Everyone interested in the
subject should look at http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7z5s
and read at least the “Copyright Basics” document linked there.
This is an interesting subject because there is a lot of talk about
potentially big changes in patent and copyright laws. One of the
biggest barriers of entry to success with patents, for example, is
the recent problem of “patent trolls”. This refers to how the larger
corporations abuse patent laws as a complete and separate business
strategy. (they can make a profit not by producing a service or
product, but by literally patent trolling). Patents and copyrights
seem to no longer favor single holders or small businesses. I hope
that more is done to support small businesses in this regard. It has
when I worked in the fashion jewellery trade one of the main jobs was
to “re-create” designs so they were sufficiently different so as not
to attract law suits. This was surprisingly easy.
Only very minor changes need to be made to a design to achieve this.
In China the highest form of flattery is to have something copied.
The do not understand why we in the West take offense at it. So expect
your design to be copied or “re-created”.
That is why JAR’s designs seem so familiar.
My daughter made a ring design I had never seen. Googled like crazy
did not find it.
Saw it in a bangle a couple of years later. Not a copy.
I have a pendant design I thought was unique. Saw it last month in
earrings. Not a copy.
THE POINT IS VERY LITTLE HAS NOT DONE BEFORE OR THOUGHT OF LATER.
Hundred monkeys syndrome, I guess.
Just get is out in the market as fast as possible under your name.
Forget copyright wars, you probably can’t afford the legal fees.
Post your design in the Orchid Gallery then you have a trade
My understanding of the term “patent troll” refers to (not usually
large) corporations whose profits are based on holding large numbers
of patents for the sole purpose of collecting royalties, without
adding any value themselves.
It’s true that large companies hold many patents, but in general
they have earned them through research and expenditures of their
capital and the hard work and ingenuity of their people. Small
companies have the same rights and methods to protect their own
inventions. One stumbling block is the need for expensive legal
representation, but that’s another topic.
There are many things wrong with our patent system, but they aren’t
just the fault of big companies.
consult an attorney.
Copyright litigation is brutally expensive and emotionally draining.
But there is a lot you can do to protect yourself that is relatively
cheap and easy.
In theory you have the same right to ownership of a copyright if you
registered it or not. The registration is just one way to record the
date and ownership claim. It is only a claim. A registered copyright
can be declared invalid if someone else can show that they did it
The first and easiest step is to mark the work with a copyright
You can buy a © copyright punch easily from most suppliers. If you
cast, punch it in the model and write a dated copyright notice on the
rubber mold. Do this consistently and you have a contemporary record
of when your pieces were created. Dated sales literature with
copyright notice is also a good idea.
Then, when you are aware that there is an infringement, it is UP TO
YOU to do something about it. There are no copyright cops looking out
for you. If you don’t take the unpleasant, confrontational initiative
to serve an infringer with notice that you consider their product an
illegal copy, there is nothing to stop them. Send a polite but firm
"cease and desist" letter or have an attorney send one for you. Be
prepared for denial. You can present your evidence directly to them,
such as photos of your copyright marked molds, sales literature,
webpages on “the wayback machine” etc. Give them the opportunity to
back down and do the right thing. Very often they will.
Copyright cases are usually settled out of court. It is very
One time I filed a case in US Federal Court. Just the filing fee was
The lawyers charged me another $2,700 for writing two cease and
desist letters and for the filing. If the alleged infringer had
chosen to fight it in court it would have cost each of us at least
$5,000 in legal fees, likely very much more.
You have to ask yourself, is this design going to make me enough
money that it is worth spending that much to stop an infringement? It
does matter what you do to protect your designs before there is
infringement, but the real action is what happens when someone
squares off against a copy-cat. It is a matter of money, will and
But you also have to imagine yourself on the other side of the
issue. If someone were to accuse you of copying them, would you have
enough evidence that you did the design before them? Would you just
ignore them and call the bluff? Dare them to put up thousands of
dollars to call you to court? Or would you just give up to design? If
you are an artist, this is where it gets very emotional. Someone is
claiming that your original work is not really yours. That you are a
liar for saying it is yours. If you are more emotionally committed to
the litigation than you are as a cost/benefit business calculation,
the lawyers will be happy to take your money.
But if you spend too much time worrying about how you will deal with
all this and don’t just go ahead and get your work into the market,
it is all a loss. It is easy to copy things and it will happen. Don’t
let that possibility keep you from moving ahead. There is a sort of
vanity that says, “my designs are so good I need to have them
copyrighted or patented before I can let anyone see them.” And then
you spend more time and effort on that than actually developing a
In theory you have the same right to ownership of a copyright if you registered it or not. The registration is just one way to record the date and ownership claim. It is only a claim.
If you go after an infringer, it’s much different. If it’s
unregistered, you can hope to get actual damages and profits the
infringer made, but that’s all. If it’s registered, you can also get
statutory damages and attorney’s fees, which will be substantial.
Copyright attorneys don’t work cheap.
One advantage of registration is that you can record it with the US
Customs Service to protect against import of copies, even from
countries where the copyright is not valid.
Or would you just give up to design? If you are an artist, this is whereit gets very emotional. Someone is claiming that your original work is not really yours. That you are a liar for saying it is yours. If you are more emotionally committed to the litigation than you are as a cost/benefit business calculation, the lawyers will be happy to take your money.
Taking this even a bit farther. I find that many young peoplereally
don’t know that much about jewelry, meaning that they haven’t
studied history. They are unfamiliar with much of the body of work
that comesfrom the centuries before. Meaning that they are "artists"
and therefore their work must be original and gosh darn it I’m gonna
sue anybody who copies my special pieces no matter what it takes and
what steps can I take toprotect my designs from the world that’s out
to steal my special work? As Steven says, if your work is high
production and you are making $100K on a design then that means
something. Otherwise, my attitude is simply that they can copy it
but they can’t make it. You can copy a Picassobut you can’t paint a
real Picasso. Just make another one, and another, and another and
life will surely go on. There is very, very little in this business
that is truly new, and all one needs to do is set a ruby instead of
a diamond and the knockoff is legal.