Commonly quoted ‘alternatives’ to registration
‘Poor man’s copyright’ and other solutions.
We are sometimes asked about alternatives to a registration with Copyright Witness. Historically there has been a lot of myth and assumption about copyright evidence, but it is precisely because of the poor provision of so called
alternatives that this service was established.
The most commonly quoted other methods to establish evidence of copyright are to post a copy of the work to yourself, or to lodge a copy with your bank or solicitor. Both of these methods have flaws, explained below, when compared with Copyright Witness registration, unfortunately they are still rather surprisingly widely quoted as solutions even today.
- Post/envelope systems
Any system where you retain the evidence yourself is very weak as it provides no independent evidence, and means that a court or tribunal would only have your word that you actually placed the work in the envelope at the time of posting.
If you use the postal service (sometimes called ‘poor man’s copyright’), or any commercial system which requires you to store the work yourself, there is no evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped, or that you did not seal the envelope years later. It is so easy to cast doubt on such evidence, we believe it is next to worthless.
- Lodging a copy with a bank or solicitor
Despite the professional nature of these establishments, copyright witnessing is not their main concern, and they are unlikely to understand the scale of the undertaking required to provide an adequate service.
Things that could go wrong include:
- Data loss:
If your work was submitted in an electronic format, compact disc, DVD, etc. or even stored on a PC/server, there is a risk of data corruption, which increases with time. The same principal applies to magnetic media - cassettes, video tapes, etc.
If your solicitor or bank’s premises either burn down, have a flood or similar problem.
- Loss of evidence for future cases:
They are unlikely to provide duplication services, so if you use the evidence once, it will not exist to protect your work from future disputes.
In fact, we often receive work from solicitors who simply pass items onto Copyright Witness as they know that we have the proper facilities to deal with this type of undertaking.
- Computer generated dates
Often people assume that because their computer adds a creation and modified date to files, that this is itself evidence of when the files were created.
This is not the case, it simply shows what time the computer thought it was. Faking such evidence is a simple case of changing the date back on the computers internal clock and creating the file. The file now has the new ‘fake’ date.
See how we compare.