Recently, when I was having a conversation with one of my Instagram friends, I learned about how a famous company that curates book boxes had infringed upon the copyright of several artists by stealing their works. I was horrified and disgusted because I, not knowing what they did, had bought a lot of stuff from this company. Obviously I will not be doing it anymore because copyright infringement is illegal.
Honestly, it is nothing new; this has happened to may artists and the story always goes like this – a big name/brand coming in and looting the creative works of freelancers or small-time artists and then leaving them in a fix because what exactly could they really even do about it.
As artists (regardless of our individual art form) we always fear that someone someday would steal our work. In fact, this is one the most commonly discussed topics in my creative writing classes as most of my students (who are all graduates, post-graduates and PhD holders) are scared that they might be putting their works at risk by posting blog posts and so most of them choose to not share any of their writings in any form at all, not even on their blogs or websites. This always disheartens me because when it comes to art, you have to be a part of the community, for forming relations with other artists and to open yourself up for healthy criticism and opportunities.
But how will you do all this when you fear your work would potentially be stolen?
The answer to this is not easy and needs some leg-work. Therefore, I am here to share two ways in which you can safeguard yourself and your art against prying eyes or hands (like the company I mentioned at the start of this article.)
Copyright For Writers
1) Creative Commons License
Creative Commons or CC is a global non-profit organisation that aims at helping creatives share their work freely by declaring clear guidelines for sharing or re-sharing of the original work. This helps the artists, especially writers get exposure without someone falsely claiming authorship of their works.
As their website quotes, “Those who want to make their work available to the public for limited kinds of uses while preserving their copyright may want to consider using CC licenses. Others who want to reserve all of their rights under copyright law should not use CC licenses.” Therefore, this license is best for writers who want to share their works on their blogs, Instagram or other social media platforms.
You can read more about Creative Commons and their licences and their uses on their website: creativecommons.org
They have a variety of licences that can be tailor made as per your needs and it is FREE! So if you are planning to start a website or a blog, it is always advisable to have their basic website icon embedded in your website, preferably on the Home page or in the Sidebar where everyone can see it.
But about about the longer works or the works that you wish to get paid for are looking to sell or license to someone, well, this brings me to the next point.
2) Copyright Licence
I know a lot of people think it is a pain in the a** to get your creative works copyrighted, but that is no longer the case. The Indian governments has made things extremely easy for creatives now by having a hassle free online process to have your works copyrighted. Of course, it involves physically sending your manuscripts or writings to the appropriate offices, but that is how you copyright your work. The rest of the process is online which saves everyone. a lot of time and trouble. Though do keep in mind that it may take 3 months to 18 months for your work to get registered entirely and for you to receive the copyright certificate. But once you apply, you can rest easy as it is (as far as my knowledge) permissible in court as evidence for the ownership of the work.
You can apply for copyright for your work here: Copyright Office (India)
In order to know EVERYTHING related to what is copyright, what is a creative work and under which sections and circumstances copyright infringement can be validated and proved and how to do it and also a million other questions you might have, please read their Hand Book Of Copyright Law. They have a provision for revisions so once your work gets copyrighted, you can agin submit the revisions (sending the whole revised work) to update your copyright for the new edition/version.
Please note that getting your work official copyrighted incurs fees which is very low compared to the kind of consequences you might face and the mental torture if your work gets infringed upon.
I personally use the Creative Commons license for my website and blogs and get my short as well as full-length manuscripts copyrighted from the Indian Copyright Office.
Do read these articles on Copyright as they are all great source of information on the subject for writers:
- Copyright Infringement In India: What Writers Should Know? by Copy Leaks
- How To Obtain Copyrights In India by Vakil Search
- COPYRIGHT BASICS FOR WRITERS by Authors’ Licensing And Collecting Society
- How To Copyright Your Writing For Free by WiKiHow
- Copyright Information for Writers by Poets & Writers
- 11 Things Every Writer Should Know About Copyrights by Helen Sedwick
- Copyrighting Your Writing by InfusionMedia
I hope my article and the resources listed at the end will help you gain a deeper insight into how you can protect your art or writing from thieves. If you have any questions or have gone through a related experience then do share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you for reading!