Does mailing your work to yourself really provide the protection of a copyright? 4 Answers as of December 07, 2010

I do not have money to obtain a copyright on my work right now, but I still would like to protect it. I have heard that you can do this by mailing the material you want to copyright to yourself and not opening the envelope. Is this really good enough to protect my work?

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Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
Copyright only costs $40. In the USA there is automatic copyright protection even without filing the copyright (Although it does not have all the same effects and right as a registered copyright does).
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 12/7/2010
Fish & Associates, PC
Fish & Associates, PC | Robert D. Fish
No, that is a terrible idea. If you want to file a copyright registration, just do it. The cost for electronic filing is only $35, and in many law firms such as ours, the fees to help you get that on file would likely only be $100. But note that copyright attaches when on original work is reduced to a tangible medium of expression, and trademark rights accrue upon usage. Thus, you don't file for copyright, you file to register the copyright rights that you already have.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/3/2010
Law Offices of Daniel Richardson
Law Offices of Daniel Richardson | Daniel R. Richardson
Mailing your work to yourself and creating some kind of rights from doing so is a popular myth, I hear it all the time, unfortunately it has no legal basis that I am aware of. If you want to register a copyright you can do so with the Library of Congress for $35 I don't know what your financial situation is but that's not a lot of money.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/3/2010
Ochoa and Associates
Ochoa and Associates | Susan Ochoa Spiering
You have common law copyright protection when your work is in a tangible format. But you are not able to enforce it until the work is registered. Mailing it to yourself does not allow registration or any more protection than printing it out. Be sure to put the circle C and year , your last name, and "all rights reserved" on the work, to give people notice of copyright.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 12/2/2010
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