Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Writer's Life

     People often ask me if I worry about people using my ideas, my words and my titles in their own writing. It makes me chuckle to think that my words are so profound others would want to call them their own. It's flattering but the answer is no, I don't worry. 
     For the record: titles, ideas and names are not copyrighted. I suppose if you plan on calling your newly opened restaurant MacDonald's, you might have a problem, but you can certainly name your child John Lennon or Ringo Starr and you may open a horse stable or a hardware shop and call it MacDonald's. You can also create a rags to riches story about a chamber maid who marries a prince or a girl who falls in love with a beast. You might even get away with borrowing a phrase or two as long as it is common enough to be dubbed a cliche. No one even blinks when confronted by familiarities like, "it's raining cats and dogs," or "rode hard and put away wet."  What you cannot do is copy another writer's words, phrases, paragraphs and chapters. It is illegal. We call it plagiarism.
     Copyrighting published material is usually taken care of by your publishing house. Authors who self-publish may purchase ISBN numbers from the Library of Congress. The number comes with copyright instructions and protection. But the fact of the matter is, as soon as a thought moves from your mind to a piece of paper or to the computer screen, it becomes your own and no one else may legally claim it. So... keep writing and slan abhale.

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