What is “Poor Man’s Copyright”?

Last modified: January 28, 2021
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The “poor man’s copyright” refers to the practice of mailing a sealed envelope to yourself containing your original creative works. Instead of opening the envelope, you keep it closed. When someone uses, copies, or distributes your work without permission, you can present the sealed envelope as evidence of ownership. 

Such a sealed envelope can be easily manipulated, either by carefully opening and closing again, or by altering the date stamp on it. Both practises have been performed in so many cases in the past, that has weakened this practise to the extent of no validity. So, poor man’s copyright may be a cheap way, but it’ s not an effective way to prove your ownership in a court of law. And of course, It does not in any case, serve as a substitute to registering your copyright

This is also validated by The US federal copyright office which explains on its website, “The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a ‘poor man’s copyright.’ There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

At the same time, the United Kingdom Patent Office says: “a creator could send himself or herself a copy by special delivery post, leaving the envelope unopened on its return. A number of private companies operate unofficial registers, but it would be sensible to check carefully what you will be paying for before choosing this route. It is important to note that this does not prove that a work is original or created by you…

To be sure that you have indisputable evidence of copyright ownership that can stand in court and protect your rights, we suggest that you use a secure and validated way to obtain evidence of ownership. In addition to an indisputable proof of ownership, CopyrightsWorld can provide worldwide infringement monitoring services and tools to act to protect your rights upon infringement .

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