I’ve been researching Intellectual Property issues in the EU.
I stumbled across an interesting site on the web at the BOIP (Benelux Office for Intellectual Property), titled Submit an i-DEPOT. Among other functions, the site serves as an IP repository for a 50 year old firm in the Benelux.
I am wondering:
If anyone else has any experience with BOIP
What other IP repositories, copyright offices, etc. others may have used to register their ideas, perhaps as a way to chronicle their work and ideas while completing their Scrivener projects.
I am aware that, under the Berne Convention (1), IP registration is automatic, and registration is NOT required for IP protection, but I am attracted to the idea of having the prima facie protection (2) that is available with registration as a tool should an issue arise.
The biggest challenge in researching this area is that a lot of the commentators you’ll read on the internet are trying to sell you something (usually some sort of registration service).
The things to remember are:
copyright exists in artistic works, whether registered or not
registration, leaving a copy with a lawyer, or other home brew methods don’t meet all the criteria you need for protection.
So what do you need for protection?
You need to be able to show that the work is an artistic creation (good news - books count. Yes, even bad ones)
You need to be able show that you wrote it. Ie, it’s your original work.
You need to defend against claims that ownership of the copyright has transferred to another individual (eg because you were working under their instruction / employment)
You need to show that the author of any offending “copy” actually copied your work. This is usually done by proving they’ve seen it and then subsequently produced an artistic work with multiple non-coincidental points of similarity.
(Note, these have all been described in layman’s terms for illustration — actual tests have strict terms and definitions ensconced within statutes, case law and international treaties)
You’ll notice that registration would help with very few of these. All are quite difficult to establish evidentially, and so — like many areas of law — often times it comes down to who has the best (most expensive) lawyers. This is why in the movie industry - where sharing your work pre-publication is an essential part of how the industry operates - Unions exist to level the playing field.
Note that as far as I know, the instant a book is published, it is somewhat protected.
If you publish before someone else, and if they were in the process of stealing ideas from you, it flips the issue around. It is they who have to prove you cheated them.
In short: keep it to yourself as much as possible until you publish. That’s your best protection.
copyright exists in artistic works, whether registered or not - Yes, that is what is meant by copyright is automatic. “Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.” U.S. (and I believe the U.K.) require the original works to be fixed in a tangible medium of expression, whereas (I believe) E.U. copyright does not (the implications of which I am not clear on).
registration, leaving a copy with a lawyer, or other home brew methods don’t meet all the criteria you need for protection. - As outlined in Copyright in General: 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 REGISTRATION. (emphasis added)
As for your additional, well laid out, four points, I am researching IP registration as I am leaning toward the belief that timely, private and/or anonymousregistration, can assist in supporting each of the four points that you so carefully outline.
That said, I also recognize that, as you so appropriately point out:
Without providing details, there are several instances where I observed online IP related cites where commentators are trying to sell you something. With a careful reading of the style, temper and tempo of the web sites, however, one can get a sense of who is looking to make a quick buck (or euro as the case may be).
I did not get that sense with the BOIP web site. FWIIW, I found the BOIP web cite through a link on an official EU governmental web site. But just to be extra cautious, I thought a posting here on L&L might be helpful for some perspective.
In my field of research of which I have been living and breathing to one degree or another for most of my life, and intensively researching for the last decade, current events are making the research concepts painfully acute. Where there is pain, there will be focus, the kind of focus that should have existed a ways back, but nonetheless, increased focus that will bring innovation, with an intensity and energy that hopefully will match the dilemma we face.
The focus will bring pressure to speed innovation that we could not even have imagined as short as a decade ago. So time will become one of many potential enemies as we search for solutions, and the Intellectual Property of timely ideas will become the battlefield for development of a new construct stationed between multiple vested interests that we have yet to recognize, understand and comprehend.
My guess is the progression of events is about to expose those interests in relatively short order, possibly (and even likely) on a scale that I could not have even imagined. Recent developments have crossed boundaries that even after decades of research I could not have conjured up, much less documented (although my guess is there were many who more fully realized what was coming).
Recent events are such that, almost on a daily basis, I am having to even check my imagination as to how it compares with the new reality that is unfolding.
Hence, my queries regarding timely IP registration.
Thank you again for your perspective,
(1) Copyright in General is published by the U.S. Copyright office and therefore is a statement of, and reflects, U.S. Copyright Law.
Registration won’t make any future claim harder, so there is no downside there if you’re minded to give it a go. Its only real downside is that it costs money. If you can afford it and it gives you some peace of mind, great.
My caveat comes from the fact that you shouldn’t assume that registration means you’re protected. You’re not.
The best protection actually comes from fact that copyright (usually) expires 70 (depending on jurisdiction) years after an author’s death. That means anyone minded to make a quick buck off someone else’s work is legally entitled to just rip off Shakespeare, Austen and Conan Doyle — they don’t need you.
I should also point out — you seem to be talking about research. Copyright only protects artistic works. That means that the actual written text is protected, but not the ideas and concepts expressed within it. Other forms of IP protection exist for those things (including patents) all of which require specialist registration. A copyright registration will not help you at all.
I should also point out that there are exemptions to copyright protection. Scholarly work is one of them. We are meant to read other people’s research, quote it, be inspired by it, build on it and sometimes disprove it.
I don’t know the nature of the IP you’re worried about (and you shouldn’t tell us) — if you are concerned you should speak to an IP lawyer and until then, @Vincent_Vincent’s advice remains the best: you can’t be copied if no one has sight of your work.
Our discussion here has allowed me to realize just how my particular unique goals may differ from the vast majority of writers.
Interpretation of copyright issues can turn on many of the concepts you have raised, at times creating confusion and doubt, leaving openings for those who seek to gain from such confusion.
As I review both my own objectives and comments such as yours, I am examining what issues I need to focus on. In my particular case, my focus is on Priority. The issue of Priority between Darwin and Wallace not quite two centuries ago (I believe) helped focus the discussion of evolution versus creation, a bedrock scientific concept. Of course, at the time, a much larger issue existed between two enormous vested interests, represented by church versus state. (1)
Today, vested interests of somewhat analogous size and influence have been in a battle to control the narrative for a far more fundamental set of concepts on an even broader scale than the inquiry raised by Darwin and Wallace.
Although the question of registration represents only a small portion of the larger issue, including that of Priority, the recent flux in our landscape presents a challenge for anyone hoping to find even a niche within any future narrative, much less a controlling stake.
In general, I agree with your assessment that for most artistic creators, such as writers, registration represents an issue for discussion with IP professionals, and may even allow for the possibility of unintended consequences.
Although BOIP may offer proprietary and private registration, there is always the possibility of discovery via hacking. The possibility of inadvertently revealing one’s work, however, is an ever present reality whenever we connect to the internet.
I’ll need to do a bit more research on BOIP. At the moment, my assessment of the the prima facie protection I mentioned is available with registration (as outlined in Copyright in General) is not nothing. It is one approach this writer may find attractive enough to perhaps warrant the fee.
Thank you again for your thoughts and comments,
(1) “He noted Wallace’s point that geological knowledge was imperfect, and commented “put generation for creation & I quite agree”. (two years later, Darwin still thought Wallace was proposingcreation)” See Publication of Darwin’s theory (emphasis added).
This is not true. The copyright law draws no distinction between a novel and a detailed technical analysis of butterfly scales. You’ll find that the various technical journals – other than a few “open source” publications – are extremely enthusiastic about copyright enforcement. And even the suggestion of plagiarism is likely to end an academic career.
I’m going to let the thread run, but please be aware that few, if any, of the thread participants are IP lawyers. Even if they are, no responsible attorney would offer specific advice without more information than has been provided here. If IP protections are important to you, seek out competent representation in your own jurisdiction.
You are, of course, correct. I was perhaps over-simplifying in my attempt to use non-legalese.
Copyright exists in both works. The point I was trying to make is that the copyright only protects the actual words, not the ideas expressed. This is why the author of The Worst Witch can’t sue the author of Harry Potter, the writers of Point Break can’t sue the writers of The Fast and the Furious, and why Taylor Swift was able to re-record her early albums practically note-for-note despite no longer owning the rights to the master recordings (she owned the song copyright, not the recording copyright).
My reference to a scholarly exclusion was an overly blunt smashing together of three concepts — one being the above “ideas” issue, two being that quoting (with appropriate citation) is a genuine legal exemption for academic purposes, and three the scholarly principle of standing on the shoulders of giants which is deeply engrained in the culture and practice of educational institutions and which copyright law has been designed to allow.
To put is another way, if our hero’s research categorically proves that the Earth is a sphere, while people can’t republish that paper with their own name on it, they most definitely don’t need to pretend it’s still flat. As such, if the OP is worried about such things, my advice remains — speak to a lawyer.
Absolutely. Did I mention going to speak to a specialist IP lawyer yet?
A bit harsh, given that this was a description intended to explain high level concepts to a casual audience! I think holding internet forum discourse to the standard of post-graduate thesis is perhaps a level of precision too far?
There is no academic exemption to copyright. There simply isn’t.
There is a “fair use” defense to claims of infringement, which academic (and other) quotations sometimes can use. Lots of people (academic and not) have gotten themselves into very serious difficulty by blithely assuming that their usage was “fair use” when it actually wasn’t.
I’m not expecting people to achieve post-graduate levels of accuracy in an internet forum, but I do want to avoid misleading our readers. There’s enough bad information about copyright out there already.
I think in this case you are arguing on the wrong side of this intended outcome.
Academic works are indeed just as protected by copyright law as any other written document. You are technically correct there. My point, however, is that this is not sufficient to protect the OP in this case because copyright is not intended to and will not be successful in protecting concepts or ideas.
But you’ve done what you set out to do… you’ve sufficiently incentivised me to stop engaging on this topic.