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Posted Thursday, December 5, 2013 2:28 PM
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I have some articles I'd like to submit to sites for publishing. One of them is a position paper on the demerits of database users in SQL Server that could be good for this site.

Aside from obvious measures like keeping witnessed copies of writings, does anybody have any thoughts on what keeps a publication or editor from just stealing ideas that people submit to them? (No, don't assume I'm making accusations--I'm just considering possibilities.)

Thanks,
Thomas Knight
2013.12.5
Post #1520332
Posted Friday, December 6, 2013 12:02 AM


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Ideas can't be copyrighted.

I have an idea for an article on when and how to create multiple file groups
I have an idea for an article on backups types and restores.
I have an idea for an article on statistics maintenance.

If you go and write articles on those subjects and publish them, I have absolutely no grounds to complain that you stole my idea. Now, if I write those articles, publish them somewhere and then you copy the text of those articles and republish, I have grounds to complain under the copyright laws of the relevant countries.

When you write for a site, there'll be an agreement between you and the site as to who owns the copyright, republication rights, etc, etc. Read any such agreement carefully. If, afterwards either party breaches the agreement, you have ground for action under contract law. Feel free to consult a lawyer for more details.



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Post #1520421
Posted Sunday, December 8, 2013 8:28 PM
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Thx for the response, but you seem to have missed my point.

My question regards the period between the time when an author submits content to an editor for review and the time when an agreement to publish is provided because, I presume, the former is required for the latter. I would assume this especially true if the author is an unknown and there's no existing relationship.

Let me illustrate with a scenario:

1. Editor expresses interest in an author's article (perhaps author sent a sample to editor, or whatever). Publisher says "Ok we'll publish that. Send it in."

2. Author sends editor full article.

3. Editor then says "Oh, well, we can't publish this after all. Sorry."

4. Editor then plagiarizes article under his own name, getting credit and maybe paid.

5. Author is screwed even though a relationship existed.

-- An even more treacherous alternative is:

3/4. Editor delays author and gives article to friend to publish in another periodical.

5. Author is not only screwed, but his claims that the article is his are defeated by now-existing publication by someone else with no apparent relationship to him.

If your response is:
A. The author would have emails proving relationship regarding article. Couldn't editor just claim emails are forged?

B. You're incredulous at the hypothetical treachery. But that's my point--it's a possibility so how do authors protect against it?

C. The editor would provide contract to author before full article or significant ideas are sent to editor. This would work and is what I want to know. Is this how it happens?
Post #1520903
Posted Sunday, December 8, 2013 10:21 PM


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tmlink99 (12/8/2013)
3. Editor then says "Oh, well, we can't publish this after all. Sorry."

4. Editor then plagiarizes article under his own name, getting credit and maybe paid.


Stock standard copyright violation. Deal with it in terms of the applicable copyright laws of the relevant countries.

In that case it's actually easy. Editor implies working for a company, so you contact that company's legal dept and deal with it through them. Far easier than dealing with an internet nobody that decides to copy your work.

I would suggest you spend some time reading up on copyright and how it works (and doesn't) on the internet.



Gail Shaw
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SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

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Post #1520908
Posted Monday, December 9, 2013 12:47 PM


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Shortest answer I can give you, start with a place that reasonably well known and legit. You're just getting started as an author. That means you're going to have to work for free or for short money to start. Then, when you get established you can make the huge bucks that an established writer makes.

And yes, that's a GIANT joke. There's very little money in technical writing. You're primarily writing for recognition. But, that's all the more reason to go to established locations to get published first. Writing for SQL Server Central is a great way to get started. They don't go into really heavy edits, so the process is reasonably painless. It'll let you get your feet wet and decide how much you want to do.


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Post #1521273
Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:06 AM
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Tom, the interesting thing about Gail and Grant responding on this topic is that they're both published online and in books. I've read things written by both of them more than once. They probably know what they're talking about.


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Post #1521483
Posted Friday, December 13, 2013 4:58 PM
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I'm sorry to have to say this, but people responding so far have seemed unable to comprehend my simple question and answer it. I've seen a patronizing lecture on what copyright is, advice on a writing career, etc.

So I've searched on my own. (I checked several sites plus copyright.gov.)

Yes, an author is protected by copyright as soon as a work is created in tangible/perceptible form. But that protection is dependent. If s/he has no irrefutable proof that s/he wrote it first, including no agreement (yet) with the publisher, someone else (e.g. editor) who gets his/her ideas and publishes them first has a much better case that the copyright is theirs. This is couched with the suspicion that the editor could claim any emails are just forged.

My question was simple: What is the mechanism that an author has to establish that prima facie evidence to prevent this? ANSWERS I'VE FOUND:

1. Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is one such form of evidence of the validity of the copyright by the author. But it's costly ($35) if you're writing many things, and is somewhat inconvenient.

2. A notarized copy would work I guess.

3. Mailing a sealed copy to oneself probably helps a little, if it's postmarked. And I imagine having a witness would help. But I doubt they're a sure thing.

It's odd that nodoby here could just say what you do. Grant said to just rely on the integrity of the publication. Is that it?
Post #1522897
Posted Saturday, December 14, 2013 3:04 AM


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tmlink99 (12/13/2013)
Grant said to just rely on the integrity of the publication. Is that it?


Yes. What I said here is exactly what I would do if the situation ever occurred.
We're not talking the next Harry Potter here, we're talking maybe $50-100 for an article, usually less. What you're discussing is more appropriate for a major movie or similar.

And at risk of been accused of being 'patronising', ideas cannot be copyrighted. An editor getting your idea means nothing. An editor getting your written work (which you have proof that you sent them) and publishing that is a copyright violation. If said editor does that, you contact the publication's legal team and lodge a complaint of copyright violation. Send them a DMCA takedown request too.

Sure, the editor can claim the emails are forged, I can claim the sky is pink, you can claim that the editor promised to pay you a million dollars, doesn't make it true. Claims without prove are just hot air and the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. Proving that said emails (which you would have sent to the publication's company email server, resulting in a log trail, and have all your own records of) are fake is a whole nother matter and hard.

An editor that does this won't have a job for long. A publication that does this won't be in business long.

Copyright these days favours the author, probably too much to be honest.



Gail Shaw
Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008, MVP
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Post #1522938
Posted Saturday, December 14, 2013 11:52 AM


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tmlink99 (12/13/2013)
It's odd that nodoby here could just say what you do.



BWAAA-HAAA!!!! I don't find it odd at all! This isn't a legal forum and, to the best of my knowledge and despite their awesome personal expiences and knowledge with and of published material, no one that has responded to this thread is a Copyright Lawyer.

Grant said to just rely on the integrity of the publication. Is that it?



Why are you even considering that? It was part of a "patronizing lecture", right!?

Based on my previous statements above and the nature of your original question, the answer would be "no". If you want to protect yourself absolutely, then you can't actually trust anyone (not even your own lawyer) and all of the tricks of using Notarized Copies, sealed registered mailings, and the expense and "inconvenient" registration with the Copy Right Office should come into full play.

In real life, though, and with the understanding that trust isn't worth the paper it's written on (because it's not written on paper), establishing trusted relationships do help a lot. As with all else, "It Depends" and I believe (although I cannot speak for them) that's what the other respondents on this thread were trying to say with their so-called "patronizing lectures".

1. Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is one such form of evidence of the validity of the copyright by the author. But it's costly ($35) if you're writing many things, and is somewhat inconvenient.



As my contribution to the stream of "patronizing lectures", your answer seems to imply that you have a doubt as to the worth of your own work. As Gail stated, for a $50-100 SQL article, it's probably not worth it. For a book manuscript, it might be. Either way to answer your original question, Copyright Registration is a guaranteed method of proof that surpasses all the other methods IMHO and, if you're that paranoid about your work, then both the money and inconvenience should make it worth it, especially since you don't need a Copyright Lawyer to do it. Even a "pending" copyright is proof unless it is disproven in a court of law and, plagarism notwithstanding, is a difficult thing to disprove.

I'm sorry to have to say this, but people responding so far have seemed unable to comprehend my simple question and answer it. I've seen a patronizing lecture on what copyright is, advice on a writing career, etc.



I'm equally sorry to say that you're being a bit nasty to people that are trying to help in the best way they can (they're NOT Copyright Lawyers!). If you were smart, you would embrace the supposed "patronzing lectures" you've received on this thread in good faith as a source of points and questions that you should ask of a Copyright Lawyer or discuss on a legal forum.

You might also leave that particular attitude out of any articles you produce so you don't find out what a "patronizing lecture" really is in the discussions that follow. Like I said, people were just trying to help you as best they could.


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Post #1522964
Posted Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:44 PM


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tmlink99 (12/13/2013)

It's odd that nodoby here could just say what you do. Grant said to just rely on the integrity of the publication. Is that it?


I did say what I do. I publish through people that have a track record (SQL Server Central, Simple Talk, Apress, Microsoft Press) of working with me, other authors I know, and a public face. For a $50 article, I send it to the people to get it published. For the books, we're working under contract before the book work starts and once the book starts, I send the chapters in. It really is just a level of trust. And yes, that's it.

Now, in my youth, when I had serious delusions of grandeur and thought I was going to be a great screenwriter, before a copy of a screenplay left my hands, I sent a copy to the Screen Writer's Guild. They ran a service where they would store your manuscript. If there was a question as to who wrote it, you could go there and get a dated copy. In theory, three of my works are still sitting there (although, I'm quite sure they're long gone by now). But, in theory, if I was worth a darn as a writer, those screenplays could be worth millions. The difference is, my 2000 word essay on backups is probably worth $100. It's just not worth the trouble to protect the copyright that tightly.

I'm sorry that you thought we wouldn't answer your question, but the truth is, we did. I told you exactly what I do.


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