Do You Ever Worry?

Sometimes the icy finger of dread creeps down my back … like, for instance, when I read the “disclaimer” my formatter added to my manuscript on my behalf spelling out that this book was a work of fiction — that characters, places, themes and the like are of my own wonderings and not based off the real life happenings of others …

But still … we live in legal times.  People can be “sue happy” at the glimmer of a windfall and this is true whether you’re insanely successful or selling merely two digits worth of stock.

I can say — in all sincerity — my book was totally made up.  My characters, save for Jenna who has mother’s spirit, are fictional beings living in the land of make-believe.  But, that doesn’t mean someone somewhere someday might not think otherwise.

We hear about it all the time.  And it’s not just the instance in which a story might strum the strings of another’s reality … sometimes it’s simply your book seeming to them a lot like their book — a book that may or may not be published, a book that may or may not be copyrighted … sometimes, it’s simply a matter of them having the idea and nothing more.

Stephenie Meyer was sued a few times over for her saga.  Once, before the finishing of New Moon … a college friend watched the Twilight movie and felt that the story was actually her’s … one that seemed to have many, many similarities to a short story she wrote in college.  Another, was after the release of Breaking Dawn when a relatively unknown author claimed that some scenes of the fourth installment were plucked directly from her own works — works that she had posted online over time but never traditionally or self published — like, the wedding scene or when Bella and Edward do it on the beach.  To her, those moments belonged to her book … and Stephenie Meyer with all her money was the “bad guy” … the thief … she was accused of plagiarism.

The internet has made being an author a dangerous place.  And the novelty of “no original idea” has taken a sharp right turn.

Can you protect yourself?  No.  Not from what I’ve seen … not from what I’ve looked up.  Save for a little blurb on the story being a work of fiction through and through, you’re screwed.  If someone wants a slice … if someone feels wronged by you and your writing … tough shit — that is, tough shit for you.

Thoughts and ideas are not gadgets and things … you cannot patent them … and that works both ways.  While someone may not be able to patent their idea that they never did anything with … you, as an author, cannot patent it either.  However, you can copyright it.  File it with the Library of Congress.  But, it’s not a fool-proof safe guard … loop holes, legal loop holes, exist.

And it’s worrisome, because whether you make bucketfuls of cash or not … you may someday find yourself served.

Do you ever worry?  How do you protect yourself and your work?





Whoa … Hold On A Minute

So … everyone kind of knows, you need to copyright your works.  It protects you … your book … and your “intellectual property” from less savory characters.

But, no one ever told me oh, you should probably file the copyright as soon as you finish editing. 

Currently, the copyright department is running 3 months for electronic filing, 10 months for snail-mail filing.  And while you can absolutely publish without … why would you?

This is a PSA … if you finish editing, the moment you receive the file back polished and ready to go … FILE YOUR COPYRIGHT!!