Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal by Kathryn Page Camp

Back Cover Blurb

Many writers see the law as a Lewis Carroll fantasy—inside out and totally illogical. They would rather write than worry about legal issues. But authors who ignore the law are the real residents of Wonderland.

Writers in Wonderland was written for writers, not lawyers. It uses everyday language and shares cases with interesting facts to explain the basic legal principles of interest to writers. These include copyrights and defamation and book contracts.

So join Lewis Carroll and his characters as they help you avoid the King and Queen of Hearts’ courtroom.

Book Excerpt

A Mad Tea-Party
(Copyright Background)
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll was a master at using words literally to change their meaning, as in the passage above. A second-class imitator who is writing a book about legal issues for writers might rework the passage this way:
“Have a copyright,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve written nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t have a right to it.”
“You mean you can’t have a write,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to have a right to nothing.”
Reality is nearly as confusing. Shouldn’t it be “copywrite” because it is about what people write? Or is “copyright” the better term because it deals with legal rights? The latter spelling is correct: a copyright is the right to control the copying of what you write or draw or record.
Even so, it isn’t an inalienable right or even one you’ve earned.
Copyright isn’t a reward: it’s a bribe. It isn’t wages for an author or artist’s finished work: it’s motivation to start working in the first place.
Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution gives Congress the power “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
Writing is a “useful Art.” Yes, even when the writer creates garbage. Since no one knows who the next William Shakespeare is until she’s written something, the rules must encourage everyone equally.
Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks
So what does the Constitution mean by “sciences and useful arts”? The modern terminology is “intellectual property,” and there are three main types: patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
A patent is the right to prohibit others from manufacturing, using, or selling your invention. Actually, it’s much more complicated than that, but this simplified definition is sufficient for most purposes. While many people think in terms of physical things like machinery or medicine, the government also gives patents on new methods and processes.
Broadly defined, a trademark is a word or symbol or a combination of the two that identifies goods produced by a particular manufacturer (e.g., Nike) or services from a particular provider (e.g., FedEx). Once consumers recognize the mark, competitors may not use it on similar goods or services without the owner’s consent. There are very few restrictions on a writer’s use of trademarks, but a later chapter will discuss the consequences of referring to trademarked goods in a manuscript.
Copyright, on the other hand, has a huge impact on writers. In simple terms, copyright is the right to control the copying, modification, publication, performance, and public display of a creative work. For writers, it protects the original arrangement of words. This includes protection against paraphrases that are close enough to the original work for people to recognize. Copyright does not, however, protect against similar works and word arrangements that the second author came up with independently.
The history of copyright dates back to the development of the printing press, and its original use was for the written word, so spelling it “copywrite” would make sense. Over the years, however, copyright expanded to include drawings and paintings and photographs and television programs and You-Tube videos and Internet websites. As Chapter 5 explains, however, it does not allow the copyright owner to prohibit all uses of his or her creative works.
Most of our rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens are governed by state law. So why does the Constitution elevate intellectual property rights to the federal level? Because they reach across state lines.
The Supreme Court has addressed these rights numerous times, and you may be surprised at the Court’s view. Here is its description of copyright law as summarized in Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken. (The quote is found at 422 U.S. 151, 156 (1975), and the footnotes are omitted.)
The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an “author’s” creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.
In other words, a writer doesn’t receive the copyright because he deserves it. He gets it as an incentive to keep writing. It’s all about the public good.

To buy Kathryn's book:
Barnes & Noble

About Kathryn:

A licensed attorney, Kathryn Page Camp is the author of the non-fiction books "Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal" (KP/PK Publishing 2013) and "In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court's First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion" (FaithWalk Publishing 2006) as well as numerous articles. When she isn’t writing, Kathryn enjoys reading, photography, and sailing Lake Michigan with her husband of thirty-plus years. They have two children and a son-in-law and live in Northwest Indiana. You can find Kathryn on the web at www.kathrynpagecamp.com.  

To connect with Kathryn:

Kathryn Page Camp is giving away a copy of Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


squiresj said...

Whow I do not believe I am the first one here to comment. Would love to win and read your book. Please enter me.
jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

Patricia Bradley said...

Great information. I would love to win this book. pat at ptbradley dot com

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