Know Your Rights
Exercise and Protect Your Property
When it comes to protecting the rights of those who write and publish their work online, i.e. bloggers, reporters, citizen journalists, artists, reporters or journalists, one thing they can be sure of is the need for protection of their work.
A first step is to ensure protection by means of copyright. For seasoned writers, such as award-winning author and screenwriter, Dawn Greenfield Ireland, this means the registration of one’s work. “Everything I write has the copyright symbol on it and I spend the thirty dollars and send it to the Library of Congress because this registration is God for seventy-five years.”
According to the United States Copyright Office, those whose works are published online may obtain copyright protection upon publication. Such works “may consist of text, artwork, music, audiovisual material (including any sounds), sound recordings, etc. Copyright does not protect ideas, procedures, systems, or methods of operation (17 USC sec. 102(b)).”
Normally, if someone is hired to create or produce a work and an agreement is signed to that effect, the benefit of the work may not inure to the benefit of the writer. Rather, it becomes the property of the employee or client. The types of agreements vary from employment contracts to ownership agreements. “Sometimes we have to sign a nondisclosure agreement,” says Ireland. “Many people don’t know that you do not receive credit for the work, in most cases and cannot use it top promote your career.” According to Ireland, it is imperative that agreements are clearly understood regarding ownership and use of the work, in advance. A work for hire simply means that someone has hired you to write something for them and they own the work, according to the United States Copyright Office.
The process for obtaining a patent for tangible elements is far easier than to obtain one for scientific purposes, as evidenced in an ABC Science online article which details the difficulties a company will have in securing a patent on a scientific process related to human genes. A New Zealand company wants to patent human genes. The government says that until the genes are used they cannot be patented. For mobile app developers, the test is to develop their apps, apply for the patent and use the apps.
Trademarks are, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a protection for a word, name, symbol or device….” These can protect the name of a writers blog, trade name and other symbol.