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   Protecting a "how to" web article
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   Author  Topic: Protecting a "how to" web article  (Read 1066 times)
onceburned
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Protecting a "how to" web article
« on: Jun 10th, 2005, 8:09am »
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I created a "how to" web site a few years ago and a few months back I found my article for sale on a CD on Ebay. Since I had not done anything to copyright it I was not able to stop the sale other than complain to Ebay.
 
I understand that, generally speaking, how-to articles like are not copyrightable but photographs are. If I was to copyright the pictures I use in the article would that afford me any protection for my future work?
 
Also, can I place all the photos (maybe a dozen or so) in one package for the $30 copyright fee if they are all of the same work?
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JSonnabend
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Re: Protecting a "how to" web article
« Reply #1 on: Jun 10th, 2005, 8:13am »
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Your base assumption that "how to" articles are not copyrightable per-se is not correct.  Copyright protection for such articles depends almost entirely on the content of the article, not on any bright-line test.
 
Your proposed approach of using photographs of literary works to protect the literary works themselves is likely not viable.
 
If you are serious about protecting your rights in your articles, I suggest contacting an attorney.
 
- Jeff
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SonnabendLaw
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Brooklyn, USA
718-832-8810
JSonnabend@SonnabendLaw.com
onceburned
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Re: Protecting a "how to" web article
« Reply #2 on: Jun 10th, 2005, 8:21am »
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Perhaps I was not clear...
 
My articles are on how to construct items used in a particular occupation. Tools I have created that I would like to share with others... not for any profit but just to help others in their work.
 
The photos I use I take myself of the various construction steps along the way toward making the project.  They are mine to use.
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mactheknife
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Re: Protecting a "how to" web article
« Reply #3 on: Jun 12th, 2005, 1:06am »
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Even after clarifying your remark, I agree with JSonnabend's response.  If your article contains an appreciable amount of textual authorship (as most do), then it is copyrightable, reagardless of the nature of the information conveyed.  Photographs of course have their own copyright.  As far as copyright registration goes, the Copyright Office will accept multiple published works (such as text and photographs) using a single application and $30 fee, if they are owned by the same person and if they were first published on the same day and in the same "unit of publication."  So, if you took all the photos and put them up on your website at the same time, you can probably do them all on a single copyright application for one $30 fee.
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JSonnabend
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Re: Protecting a "how to" web article
« Reply #4 on: Jun 13th, 2005, 12:12pm »
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on Jun 12th, 2005, 1:06am, mactheknife wrote:
If your article contains an appreciable amount of textual authorship (as most do), then it is copyrightable, reagardless of the nature of the information conveyed.

I certainly didn't say that.
 
In practice, aspects of your work may be protectable, while others are not.  In copyright-speak, anywhere where the idea your are trying to convey and the expression of that idea are so closely related that they effectively "merge" (that's the copyright-speak), you'll have no protection.  Where there is sufficient creative input, then you'll have protection under copyright law, but again, only to the extent that the expression is sufficiently creative to avoid merging with the underlying idea.
 
- Jeff
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SonnabendLaw
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Brooklyn, USA
718-832-8810
JSonnabend@SonnabendLaw.com
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