What’s New Wednesday: May 6

There are a number of new things I’m rolling out for this blog. The first minor change is the regular Tuesday post. The Twofer Tuesday format wasn’t working as well as the other days of the week. Instead of two poems, I’m only posting one and calling it Tuesday Poetry. I’m also attempting to have more nonfiction. I guess one could call these normal blog posts such as this one. I’m trying some new things. Some stuff I’m trying to write more often and I’m throwing out some tips and things for writers.

We’ll see how many of these new things work well enough to stick around. Other new stuff. I’m working on multiple projects. One criticism I’ve gotten about my poetry books is there are often random things that don’t fit the theme of the book. I’m trying to focus more on theme consistency and therefore have two poetry books in progress. I have also written over half of the first draft of my novel “The Hook.” And I’ve started outlining what will become my next novel. I’m also developing another short story collection but have written no short stories at the moment. 

Those are the basic new things for May. We’ll see how these new post ideas work. If they don’t, I have some new ideas for June. If they do, well I’ll do my best to keep them going. If there is anything you all would like to see more of or something new you want to see on this blog, leave a comment and tell me what you think. Feedback is always appreciated.

Introduction to Copyright Law

Whether you are a creator or someone who uses the creative works of others, it is important to understand copyright law.  You may need to protect your own work, or you will need to know how to obtain permission to use others works.  Here is some basic knowledge of copyright law but you should always consult with a lawyer before pursuing legal action.

What is Copyrightable?

Two things are required for a copyright.  The work must be original, and the work must be written down, recorded, or otherwise fixed such as filmed, painted, typed, etc…  Some examples are books, magazines, newspapers, poems, songs, plays, photographs, paintings, sculptures, films, and designs.  Letters, speeches, and fictional characters are also copyrightable.

What is Not Copyrightable?

Though the requirements for copyrights are broad, there are several things that are not eligible for copyright.  Items that are excluded from the Copyright Act are ideas, plots, concepts, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, principles, and discoveries.  Facts are not copyrightable; however, a compilation of facts could be copyrightable.  Only the manner and order the facts are presented is copyrightable.  Names, titles, short phrases, Scenes-A-Faire, and stock characters are not copyrightable.

How Long Does a Copyright Last?

The Copyright Act of 1976, which took effect on January 1, 1978, states a copyright lasts the entire life of the author plus 50 years.  The Sonny Bono Act of 1998 extended this to the life of the author plus 70 years.  What about anything created prior to 1978?  Anything published between 1964 and 1977 was given a 28-year copyright with an automatic 67-year extension for a total of 95 years, only if the copyright holder filed their renewal application.  Anything published between 1923 and 1963 was given a 28-year copyright with the option to renew for another 67 years for a total of 95 years.  Everything prior to 1923 is considered Public Domain.  Why is this important?  95 years after 1923 is 2018.  Every year from now on will add new works into the Public Domain.

Fair Use and Parody of Copyrighted Works

There are special situations where a copyrighted work can be used without permission.  The first is called fair use.  These include criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.  The second is called parody, which is a form of commentary about an existing work or its author.  If something is borrowed from one work to comment on another, this is considered satire and may be copyright infringement.

Public Domain

Public Domain means the copyright has expired or one never existed for the work.  As mentioned earlier, everything prior to 1923 is Public Domain.  Works with a copyright prior to 1964 that did not renew their copyright are Public Domain.  The film Night of the Living Dead (1961) is in the Public Domain because the copyright holder did not renew the copyright and it expired.  Everything published between 1923 and 1977 has a maximum copyright protection of 95 years.  95 years after 1923 is 2018.  This means everything published in 1923 that was still under copyright protection fell into the Public Domain on January 1, 2019.  Everything published in 1924 fell into the Public Domain on January 1, 2020; and so on and so forth.  Some authors place their works in the Public Domain.  There is no official database of Public Domain works so it will require some research to determine if a specific work is in the Public Domain.

For more information involving copyrights, trademarks, and other entertainment rights, obtain a copy of Joy R Butler’s book The Permission Seeker’s Guide Through the Legal Jungle.  Also, always remember to back up and keep several copies of your intellectual property.

Fun Fact: A blog is another form of recording something; therefore, everything you post on your blog is copyrighted.

Free Stuff for Quarantine

Now until the end of March, Free Stuff! The Morbid Museum! Free Download on Amazon Kindle from March 27 through March 31. 19 short stories. Some tales include Turtles of the Ninja variety, ghosts of the packman variety, busters of the ghosts variety, and many more. All stories are original. Visitors to the Morbid Museum seek the dark and twisted corners of the world. They are both terrified and intrigued by the unknown. Tales of killers, monsters, and madmen curated by the Master of Death, Mr. Siris Grim. Mr. Grim collects the darkness that everyone attempts to hide. He displays it within the corridors of his gruesome gallery. Who will be next to buy a ticket and walk the halls of the Morbid Museum?

Some other fun stuff coming up for your quarantine survival pleasure includes National Poetry Month! Starting April 1, on this blog and social media, I’ll have a poem or some poetry every day. I’ll even have some weekly intro to poetry things throughout the month. I also share some of my favorite poems from famous poets like Edgar Allan Poe and Sylvia Plath. Help spread the word and participate in National Poetry Month in April. Tell your friends. And please share your favorite poems with me throughout the month. Share your work or the work of others.