Writing Tips – Protecting Your Material

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If you’re a writer or planning to do any writing for the purpose of getting your work published, you’re going to want to protect yourself from getting your material stolen. We live in a cutthroat business and publishers and agents will take any opportunity they can to steal an up and coming writer’s work. So what can you do to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen?

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What you do all depends on what you’ve written as there are different laws for different areas of the writing professions. So since you are dealing with laws, the first thing you’re going to want to do is consult with an entertainment attorney. This is a lawyer who specializes in this area. This is where you have to decide whether or not you want to make a trade off. To get a really good and experienced attorney in entertainment and copyright law, you’re going to have to spend some big bucks. If you’re an up and coming writer, you may not have that much money and won’t be able to afford his services. You may have to settle for someone who doesn’t have as much experience. The trade off here is that someone with less experience is likely to miss something that a more experienced attorney is going to catch. The more complicated the contract, the easier it is for things to slip through the cracks. This is where you have to decide what is more important to you, saving a few bucks or getting the best representation possible.

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While you’re looking for and getting an attorney you’re going to want to copyright your work. The copyright laws have changed dramatically over the years to make it easier for artists to get their material copyrighted. If you’re a songwriter you have two avenues to choose from. You can send your material with a small fee to the copyright office in Washington to get your song copyrighted, or you can simply mail a copy of the song either on tape, CD or sheet music to yourself and leave it unopened with the post mark clearly visible. The advantage of sending to Washington is that if a court battle ensues the evidence will probably hold more weight with a judge when rendering his decision. Other areas of writing have their own laws and procedures but they are all very similar to song writing.

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One thing you should always do when dealing with a publisher who is interested in your work is to get everything in writing. Verbal contracts can stand up in a court of law but they are harder to win against than a written one. When you do get a contract, make sure you go over every page of it. If there is something you don’t understand, have your lawyer go over it.

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One thing you should never do as a writer is sell your work outright. This is something that only a crooked publisher would ask you to do anyway. You could be selling away millions of dollars in royalties if your published work, which is now owned 100% by the publisher, takes off and is a big seller.

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By simply following the above tips you’ll be protecting yourself against the possibility of losing a lifetime of earnings.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Writing Tips

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