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Copyright Registration – Making It Official

Copyright Protection Rights Under Formal Copyright Registration

This information is best summed up by a quote from the copyright.gov website.

The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration.

In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:

  • Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
  • Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.
  • If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies.
  • Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright.

    It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. Sections 107 through 121 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations on these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of “fair use,” which is given a statutory basis in section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act.

So there you have it – a crash course on copyrights. Remember, I am not a lawyer and these posts are not designed to provide any legal advice pertaining to any specific circumstances. Always obtain professional legal advice for any legal situation.

Do Private Label Rights Let You Copy?

How Private Label Rights Can Be a Tremendous Time and Money Saver

If you refer back to the first post in my series on copyrights, you’ll recall a sentence I quoted from the copyright government website. It reads, “In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author.”

But why is this important? It covers something called Private Label Rights content. Private Label Rights content is basically material you obtain from a third party with the right to claim it as your own work. You may think this seems kind of sketchy, almost like cheating, but it’s nothing like that.

You may have heard of ghostwriters. These are professional writers who are employed to write articles, books, or other texts for an employer (usually not a professional writer) who gets the official credit for the work. A good example of this is the celebrity autobiography. A large number of these are ghostwritten since actors, actresses and professional athletes are not professional writers.

Private Label Rights content is the same thing. You obtain this material and are able to put your name on it as the author or creator. It covers not only eBooks, articles, autoresponder series and ad copy, but also graphics, web templates, logos and software. Whether you are an internet marketer or a business owner with a website, this can be a great help to you.

For business owners not in the internet marketing industry, Private Label Rights content can be hugely beneficial. To get more traffic to your website and keep it there, one of the basic rules is to have good content. Often times, you will see businesses displaying relevant articles on their websites. This can add value by showing prospects how your product is relevant to them and by reaching out to them with free information.

This builds trust and helps establish you or your business as an expert in your field. Not to mention it gives the search engines more keywords on your website to grab onto and get you listed for – or get you ranked higher for your core keywords. You can also use this content as articles to publish to article directories. This gives you exposure on the web and provides incoming links to your website.

For internet marketers, two things are often repeated by countless experts. The first is that you should have your own product and the second is that you must build an email list. But what if you aren’t the greatest writer? What if you don’t have the hours and hours it takes to create your own website, eBook or article series? How about if you don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to pay a writer or designer to create your eBook or website? Private Label Rights content is the answer.

You can find Private Label Rights eBooks and articles in almost any niche you can think of. The same goes for website templates and graphics. The best part is that you can get tons of it at a fraction of the cost required to hire someone to write just one eBook or article set for you. The only secret is knowing where to find it.

To break that secret wide open, here are the Top 10 Best places to get Private Label Rights (PLR) content for your website, emails, articles and information products.

  1. PLR Wholesaler – Ridiculous amount of PLR content, free access to a lot of it
  2. INDIGITALWorks – Tons of PLR content, regularly updated
  3. Plrebookclub – Very High Quality PLR eBooks, 50+ new added every month
  4. Simply PLR – Well written PLR articles, 225 new added every month
  5. PLR Newsletter – Professionally written newsletters, articles, and and squeeze pages, updated monthly
  6. Monthly Content – Thousands of PLR products, websites, graphics and articles with new content added monthly
  7. KingdomPLR – 126 Top quality PLR sets that each include an eBook, cover graphics, sales page, thank you page and download page, many different niches
  8. NicheMembershipPro – Professionally designed PLR Products and complete websites across multiple niches, new content added monthly
  9. Articles-PLR – A collection of over 99,000 PLR articles across a myriad of subjects. You can download 350 of them for free with no opt in
  10. IM Guru PLR – Private Label Rights to 5 Professional quality video courses in the internet marketing niche.

If you are new to all of this, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here is an outstanding course on how to effectively use and profit from PLR.

  1. PLR Unleashed

PLR is huge on the web right now as so many successful internet marketers are using it to make a fortune. Beware of many of the cheapo or freebie PLR offers, especially articles. Most of them are outsourced to foreign (non-US) writers that don’t have a good grasp of English; the writing is just terrible. (If you don’t believe me, just post a reply to this article and ask me to post some of them!). The PLR sites in our top 10 list are high-quality sources that give you outstanding bang for your buck. So if you’re interested in PLR content, these are definitely the places to go.

In the last article in the series, we will look at copyright registration and legal protection.

When It’s OK to Copy

Copyright Lines Can Be Blurred by Social Media, Video Sharing and Affiliate Programs

With the advent of photo sharing websites like Flickr and video sharing sites like YouTube, the lines of copyright have blurred slightly. These types of websites have links that allow you to add their content to your own sites for the purposes of sharing it with your visitors.

Is this OK? You bet it is! As long as you give credit and don’t claim the work is your own, you’re all set. That’s what social media and (legal!) video sharing websites are made for! The big but, however, is that the photos or videos have to be user created or submitted. That user can be an individual or a company. But, you can’t grab copyrighted works that have been illegally shared. If a person posts an episode of the television show Lost, that belongs to ABC Television, not the person who posted it, so you should steer clear.

It is OK to use works in the Public Domain without asking permission. It is good form to always cite your source, but you can copy without fear of being sued. Remember, however, that just because something does not have a copyright notice printed on it or was posted on a blog somewhere does not mean it’s public domain.

According to the Copyright office (and available on Wikipedia as well):

Myth: The lack of a copyright notice means the work is public domain.
Not usually true. United States law in effect since March 1, 1989, has made copyright the default for newly created works. For a recent work to be in the public domain the author must specifically opt-out of copyright. For works produced between January 1, 1923 and March 1, 1989, copyright notice is required; however, registration was not required and between January 1, 1978 and March 1, 1989 lack of notice is not necessarily determinative, if attempts were made immediately to correct the lack of notice.

Opting out of copyright is something that has taken shape in different ways on the internet. Multiple types of licenses exist on the internet that allow reproduction with or without restrictions.

The various forms of the Creative Commons License allow for using the published work to varying degrees within your own creations. This typically requires a citation of the original creator. There are also multiple types of software licenses that function along the same lines. The bottom line in this case is to always look for copyright information and/or always read the license.

Affiliate programs are an interesting work-around to copyright rules. If you belong to an affiliate program, you have permission to show an image on your website of the product you are promoting. While you don’t have a license through the original creator to display this image, you usually have permission through your affiliate agreement to show product images so you can promote them.

For example, if you are an affiliate of a poster site, you can show any of those posters on your site – including copyrighted art. The rule is usually that while you can show an image of the product, you can’t (a) show an image by the same artist that the company does not offer in poster form, (b) display an alternate rendering of the image that is not identical to the product being promoted and (c) use any part of the images in your logo, website design or unrelated promotions.

That is just one example, but you can apply that reasoning to other types of affiliate promotion as well. For instance, if you are doing media buys or banner advertising, this is how you are able to display the banner containing, let’s say, the Netflix® logo.

In the next copyright article, I’ll show you a huge time and money saver that is designed for you to copy.

Plagiarism, Fair Use and Your Website

Even if Copyrights are Present, Sometimes It’s OK to Copy

In the last post, we looked at how copyright is obtained and what it covers. Now let’s find out when it’s OK to use someone else’s content. There are a few categories to cover here, but first we want to look at how long a copyright lasts. According to US laws:

A work that was created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of “a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

This means you can quote Shakespeare without having to worry about the current publisher of “Macbeth” coming after you. However, there is a difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism. If you do quote “Macbeth” and try to claim it as your own work, even though it’s not protected by copyright you are still plagiarizing.

In school, this can get you in trouble and even kicked out. On the web, it can severely damage your credibility. Would an expert really need to steal someone else’s words?

Let’s say you purchased two internet marketing educational eBooks. If you read both and discover that they each share a number of word-for-word identical paragraphs, would you feel ripped off? I have seen this happen and I can tell you that customers will rarely consult one or both of the authors’ “expert” advice again. The bottom line for this case is to always site your source. You can do it either inline, in a footnote or a bibliography. It adds credibility. It also shows your reader that you did your research so the information you delivered to them would be correct.

A lot of times you will hear people refer to something called “Fair Use”. What is Fair Use? Fair use is defined in sections 107 through 118 of the US Copyright Law (title 17, U.S. Code). Looking at that code, we find:

The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law. Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. Citing sources generally prevents accusations of plagiarism, but is not a sufficient defense against copyright violations.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use:

  • Quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment;
  • Quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations;
  • Use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied;
  • Summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report;
  • Reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy;
  • Reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson;
  • Reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports;
  • Incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.

Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself. It does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work. The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material.

When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of fair use would clearly apply to the situation. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.

Going back to the eBook example, I would consider it educational use (remember, I am not a lawyer) to quote something from another eBook as long as it highlighted or contradicted my point. I would not consider it fair use to make their words the primary source of information in my eBook.

The same goes for your website. If you find an article that speaks to the exact point you are trying to convey on your website, always ask the copyright holder if you can post it on your site. If that’s not possible, you will need to continue your research and end up writing something original, in your own words. Remember, if you start with copyrighted material and create something based on it, even if it’s not readily identifiable as the original, it is still considered creating a “derivative work” and still violates the author’s copyright.

Images are the same. If you find an image that you like on some other website, even if it’s a button and not a photo, you shouldn’t just copy it for use on your site.

In the next post, we will look at other circumstances that allow you to use other people’s works on your website.

Copyrights DO Exist on the Internet

Make Sure You Are Aware of the Copyrights For Everything on Your Website

Is the internet the Wild West or are there rules? The web has evolved very fast over the last few years. Companies see it as a serious advertising medium and conduit for information sharing. But something that still seems to cause confusion is content ownership. So, in my next few blog posts, I’m going to talk with you about copyrights.

One big question I hear often is, “When is it OK to copy content from such and such a source?” The safe answer is never, but that’s not entirely accurate either. Instead, let’s look at how someone obtains copyright protection. To find that information, we look to the copyright.gov website.

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright. In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author.

Now we need to know how that applies to the web. In other words, what types of works can be protected by copyright? Again, we refer to copyright.gov.

Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works”; maps and architectural plans may be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.

Look back at the sentence that says “The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device.” This statement, along with the one about computer programs, gives coverage to website content.

If you see an image, an article, software, video, audio, website design, logo or other original content online or offline, it is most likely copyrighted by the website owner, designer or author and should not be copied without permission.

There is one other note from the Copyright website that I believe is important – especially since the internet is not confined to the United States (and neither are your visitors or customers!).

There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends, basically, on the national laws of that country. However, most countries do offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions. For further information and a list of countries that maintain copyright relations with the United States, see Circular 38a, International Copyright Relations of the United States.

In the next post, we will look at Fair Use.

My Newbie Web Hosting Mistake

What I Didn’t Know About My Webhost Did Hurt Me

When I first started out online 8 years ago, the entire hosting landscape was different. Multiple domain hosting (or unlimited domain hosting) was only offered by a few providers. It was more expensive than it is today. To even have multiple domains, there was a good chance you would end up with a reseller account.

After doing (what I thought was) good research on available hosting companies, I decided on a multiple domain shared hosting plan. Now, I’m not going to name the company because the plan has changed greatly since 2002. So while the plan may not exist anymore, my experience is still just as relevant today as it was then.

Overall, this host was just as good as I thought. My websites loaded quickly, they had good customer support, my site was rarely down and they had all of the features I needed… so I thought.

When I went to put up my second website on a new domain, I went through cPanel and set everything up. It worked fine, until I got to the email. You see when you register for unlimited domain shared hosting, you start with a primary domain. Add-on domains are just forwarded subdomains of your main domain.

Let’s say you have www.mysite.com and www.secondsite.com, where www.mysite.com is your primary domain. The world will see these as independent domains. Your server sees your add-on site as secondsite.mysite.com, which is a subdomain of your primary website.

How does this relate to email? Well, as it turned out, all of my emails could only be sent via my primary domain. Even though I could have an email account for each domain, they were receive-only – except for email accounts tied to my primary domain. Email for add-on domains were really just forwarding accounts that used my other domain emails as email aliases of my main domain accounts.

Cutting through the jargon, I could send and receive email using email@mysite.com. I could receive email using email@secondsite.com. If I needed to send email, it would always be sent from @mysite.com. That means I didn’t have independent email accounts for each of my sites.

Imagine having 2 different businesses that are completely unrelated (like one about computers and the other about specialty cheeses) and trying to use the same email address for both. It was horrible! I had to resort to using a hotmail address for outgoing mail on my second website. It looked unprofessional and I’m sure it cost me some business.

Needless to say, this didn’t last long and I left the host. Upon further inspection deep in their operating agreement, I found the statement (convoluted with legalese and industry-speak) about the email. Man did I feel dumb. Not to mention the hassle of transferring my sites to my new host.

That’s why it’s so important to know what you need in a host and do your homework to make sure they have it – even if it seems like a picky little thing. I know I’m opening myself up to get ragged on here, but what do you think about this? Have you had any similar experiences? (I’m sure I can’t be alone on this, but hearing your story would make me feel better!)

The Key To Web Hosting Success

The One Key Characteristic Your Webhost Must Have If You Want A Successful Website

There is one thing that you must have in a web host, no matter what level of hosting you need. This key component is not advertised on their websites and you won’t find it in their FAQs or knowledgebases. Some reviewers may even gloss over this critical element.

What is this cornerstone to a quality web host? Reliability.

Some may call this uptime, others may say it’s website load time and still others may say it’s control panel functionality. The truth is it’s all of these things.

When I say reliability, I mean that a good web host must:

  • Have an uptime guarantee of >99% and stand behind it (it’s one thing to make the claim, but it’s a whole other thing to live up to it!)
  • An average website must load quickly (but don’t blame the host for slow load times if you have a huge page with 50 full size photos, a bunch of video or tons of scripting!)
  • Your hosting control panel should be available >99% of the time and not break or be overly sluggish.
  • You should be able to upload files to your account via FTP quickly and easily. (A 25kb HTML page should upload in a few seconds or less over a broadband connection using an up-to-date computer. If it takes minutes, something is wrong.)

Downtime just plain hurts. Whenever your site is down, that’s time you won’t be making money or getting visitors. Now, we have to be realistic about uptime. A 31 day month has 44,640 minutes. If a host guarantees 99.9% uptime, on average and at worst, your site will be down 44 minutes and 39 seconds per month.

A more typical scenario, however, is that a [good] host will have 100% uptime most months and end up with about 2 hours or less of outages across a given year.

On the other hand, excessive downtime can kill your business. It’s not just that your site is unavailable for potential customers. Your site could start to gain a reputation for being unreliable. This can be especially damaging to an ecommerce site. Who wants to give their credit card number to a site that goes down at random? It would make you look unprofessional and drive away business. The same is true for consistently slow loading pages (always make sure nothing on the page itself is malfunctioning!).

So what can you do to prevent this? It’s all about reputation. Read reviews. Visit sites that are hosted by the host you are looking at and see how fast they load. Look at their terms of service to see if they stand behind their uptime guarantee.

All nine hosts that made the MyMultiHost.com top web hosting quality list have independently measured 99.95% uptime or better – five of the nine have independently measured uptime of 99.99%.

Do you have any uptime horror stories to share? Have you used any webhosts who didn’t live up to their reliability guarantees?

Do You Own Your Name?

If Someone Else Owns Your Name, Your Reputation May Be At Risk

How can someone else own your name? Well first off, we aren’t talking about any of your domain names – we’re talking about your name. It may be obvious, but your name identifies who you are. It’s on your checks, your mail and anything else that identifies you in the physical world.

In the digital world, your name is part of your online identity as well. You may put it under your blog and forum posts, in your email signature and on your website. We work hard to build a positive personal identity online, especially if it relates to our business. In today’s web 2.0 environment of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and other social and even viral networking, maintaining your good reputation is vital to your business.

That’s why it’s so important to own your name as a domain name. If your name is John Smith, and someone registered your name as johnsmith.com, they can put up whatever site they want. This could be another real person that has the same name as you, John Smith. They simply got to the domain before you and put up a personal website. In this case, there is less reason for concern. The other Mr. Smith is just doing his thing on the web and it’s clear he’s not you.

On the other hand, what if johnsmith.com is used for illegal music, video or software sharing, porn, or spamming? That could be a problem. Which do you think is the worst of that list? Many of you may say porn, but for someone with an internet marketing or ecommerce business, it’s really spamming. It could involve email spamming, comment spamming on forums or blogs, search engine abuse or another violation of a company’s terms of service.

If you wrongfully become associated with this activity, it can cause you a lot of headaches. It can take months to build a good online reputation and a good rapport with your customers. It can take only days to destroy it. Someone trying to make a quick buck piggybacking on your reputation can kill your business. This is not just with your customers, but potentially with companies that provide you services as well.

To be clear, we’re not talking about identity theft here. This is far easier. This is someone either masquerading as you to steal some of your business or someone just using the domain for their questionable dealings. While a simple WHOIS search will show anyone this site’s true owner, not many people know to look there.

So what can you do about this? The answer is actually quite simple. Buy your name as at least a ‘.com’ domain name. Even if you never use it, that is the only way to really protect it. Grab your name as a domain name today. Visit NameCheap to do it

[they have the best prices 🙂 ].

Have you had any experiences with someone trying to ride your coattails or unintentionally (or intentionally) damage your online reputation? Post and share your experience… you may just help another reader prevent disaster.

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