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  #1  
Old Aug 8th, 2006, 02:56 AM
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Publishing rights and the internet

I recently learned some interesting things about publishing rights and the internet. Those posting stories they eventually intend for publication should read this carefully.

There are two types of "rights" authors should be concerned about: copyright and publishing rights. Copyright is what most people worry about when posting content online; how do you protect yourself from having your work stolen? Never fear. Copyright belongs to the author the moment you place something in a fixed medium. You don't have to pay anything, register anything, or even put a copyright notice on your post. You can't copyright names, titles, or ideas.

The other type of right, the one many authors don't know about, is publishing right. Publishers purchase many different types of rights, including first print, second print, foreign print, and serialization. First print rights are just what they sound like: the right to be the FIRST person to publish your work.

"Publishing" means to make a story available to the public. This can include posting your work on the internet. You do not have to be paid in order for your work to be published. It doesn't have to exist in hard copy to be published. If you write a story, post it here, and then later try to sell it to a publisher, you most likely cannot offer them first print rights. (This may differ by area and publisher).

You can post your work online in a private area without sacrificing first print rights. This means, for example, a site that requires a password to enter.

So caveat emptor and all that. Be careful what you post, or at least know what rights you can offer to a publisher.
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Old Aug 8th, 2006, 11:52 PM
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Huh. I never actually thought of that... Thanks, M. That's good to know. (Now I've gotta remove some stuff from the net *grumble*)
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Old Sep 7th, 2006, 04:23 AM
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My storywill have to go under severe editing...
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 09:22 PM
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What about publishing with a pen-name? Does that complicate the copyright process? What do you do about this? Would it beunwise to use one?
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Old Dec 21st, 2006, 01:33 AM
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Pen names don't really impact copyright. Go ahead and use one. Actually, this month's issue of The Writer addressed this question. I'll paraphrase:

"You retain the rights and ownership to your story, poem, or novel even if you publish under a pen name. You can legally register a copyright with the US Copyright Office (or your country's equivalent) using pen and/or legal names. Information on accomplishing this can be found on the internet, but if you suspect your case is complicated or you don't understand what you read, seek legal counsel. You can also set up a business bank account using your pen name and your legal name. Always google your chosen pen name to make sure it's not already in use."

The issue states that "many professionals" advise writers to register with the copyright office because it "gives the author the right to sue anyone who plagiarizes their work." I admit that's the first time I've heard that you can't sue someone if you haven't registered copyright. Everything I've read leads me to believe registering a copyright is more trouble (and money) than it's worth. I'll have to do more research on the subject.
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Old Jul 26th, 2007, 11:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terquem
Specifically I hope that the Administrators, and Moderators of the site, and this board, can help me clarify just what constitutes my “Rights” to this character and submissions to “Explosive Runes” that are about this character and the setting of “Anchor Point”. I, after all, know that I created them, but I did so as part of an agreed upon co-operative, and collaborative effort. Do I need to obtain permission from all contributors before I submit a piece to “Explosive Runes”?

Second, I wish to include Anchor Point, and The Green Lady, as story elements in the Open Game Thread, “The Troubles of Stonebridge”. If I do so, will this in some way compromise my rights to the Character and the Setting?
The absolute best thing you can ever do it receive someone's express written consent to publish their creative work.

That being said, you're wanting to use collaborative material put together in an open forum for an article you are not going to be paid to write for a free online magazine. There is very little you can be sued for, and since you were part of the collaboration, its not like the others can publish the material for money without your permission. Adding onto this that the public collaboration was held in the same community that publishes (and reads) the free magazine, there is a very, very narrow window for lawyers to look through, and even if they did the worst thing that would likely happen to you is having the judge laugh in your face and call you a nerd.

In conclusion: Its about 99% safe, but for 100% safety, you'd have to receive the consent of the collaborators.
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Old Oct 8th, 2007, 07:22 AM
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Here`s a question. I am thinking of writing one of the two story ideas I intend to publish (if possible). However, I was consider making a poll here with a short summary of the two stories (like the ones you find on the back of a book) so I can see what people would generally perfer. If I make such a poll and add the summaries, is that considered first print?
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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Do First Publishing Rights extend to concepts? I'm writing a book featuring Semela Brand and a few other characters I've created on this site; even though plot elements are the same, will I still be able to give a publisher first rights to the book?
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Old Aug 5th, 2008, 02:04 AM
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As far as I know, yes. Concepts and names aren't copyrightable.
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Old Aug 5th, 2008, 08:33 AM
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Although a publisher might not want to buy the book if large portions of the story--in any form--are available for free on the Web.
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 03:34 AM
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A quick question concerning the 'private area' loophole in 1st Publishing Right...

If someone posted a story/work on a public site, but made it so that people not registered on the site or in a certain group couldn't see it, would you still be able to offer 1st Publishing Rights?

For example - Someone made a post on this site, but made is in Secreted text, with tons of people able to see it (basically, anyone who wanted to read it) would we retain the ability to offer 1st Publishing Rights since nobody who isn't logged on could possibly see the story?
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 12:24 PM
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It would probably depend on the publisher. Assuming they didn't know about the post, or didn't do a websearch and find it and decide it was already 'out there', it would probably be ok. The first publishing rights determination has a lot of gray area.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 04:30 PM
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A quick piece of advice: don't post your final draft. Rather, post drafts in progress for the sake of getting feedback from readers.

It's a simple way to preserve your copyright and avoid giving up your first publishing rights (since, hopefully, you'll edit further based on said feedback prior to offering your story up for publication).

I will tell you though, that there is very little likelihood of any publisher doing a search to track down a particular piece of writing (at least until you start getting into the more serious end of publishing; generally speaking, and specifically within the fantasy/sci-fi genre, you have a few levels of publishing to work through before you need to begin to become paranoid of equally paranoid junior and senior publishers).
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Old Sep 29th, 2009, 12:48 AM
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If you posted it online in a public area, how much does it have to be changed in order to give first publishing rights?

For example, if you posted a rough draft and submitted a final draft, I don't think that would qualify for first publishing rights. A majority of the story has already been released online where anyone could see it and only a small portion has changed.

However I think you would be able to give first publishing rights if you expanded a short story that was previously in a public area into a full blown novel. Even though the plot, the character, and possibly a few sentences where the same, there has been a lot of original content added to the story.

So I guess my question is, how much additional original content allows you to be able to give first publishing rights?
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Old Sep 29th, 2009, 10:33 AM
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It would probably depend on the publisher, but I would say the difference between a rough draft and a final product is pretty wide. I would be comfortable submitting a final draft that had gone through some public revisions. Like I said earlier, there's lots of gray area in first publishing rights area.
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