Archive for May, 2013

Copyright: When it’s yours, it’s yours (with apologies to attorneys)

I promise this will not be a dry legal post. Nor will it be a legal thriller by any means. Just a quick rundown on why we have copyright, and why you might want to use the U.S. copyright office’s online registration.

The primary reason we have copyright is to spur on innovation and creativity. Copyright is defined as “a form of protection provided by the government to the authors of original works of authorship, covering literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.” Without the protections provided by our copyright laws, many books and songs and other artistic projects we enjoy today would not exist.

copyright symbolNo matter how your creative work is distributed and discovered by others, it is considered intellectual property, and therefore protected. In some instances, your work might not have any value to anyone but you (and your mom/spouse/best friend/dog). In that case, you may want to just place a copyright notice on the material and not bother to register. But if your work is valuable enough to publish, it’s valuable enough to register.

This is probably most relevant to authors. Fictional works sometimes get sold to various people, for various reasons – like being adapted into TV or movie scripts, or translated into other languages for printing or distributing in other countries. Without proof of registered copyright in hand, an author cannot sell these rights off (and make those millions), because those ideas won’t be proven to be “owned” by the author.

While most nonfiction authors don’t usually need to have copyrights registered for things like TV scripts or movies (except in cases of true crime or memoirs), their ideas might be completely unique, and it’s a good idea to protect them with a registered copyright.

Copyright registration is a fairly simple process. An application form and fee can be sent to the U.S. Copyright Office:  It’s not expensive, but it’s also not fast. The waiting time is currently 2-4 months for most books, and sometimes a little longer for other artistic projects.

Special note for you techies: If you’re writing code, your software application could make a world of difference, so it’s important to register your original as soon as possible after you publish your work.

Open up your creativity, write that next Billboard Top-40 song, or New York Times bestseller – and get it registered, so you have no worries about someone else cashing in on your success!

ProQuest provides essential research information on copyright and trademark solutions.  Here are some key links to get you going:

Copyright Search Basics – Quick Reference

Copyright Files and Trademark – Search Aids and User Guides

20 Solutions for Trademark and Copyright Research

Expanding the frontier of post-graduate research

Get connected with China’s researchers for the first time. The world of post-graduate research is a vast and wild place.

Granted, there are no lions or rhinos or deadly virus-laden mosquitoes to worry about, but it’s certainly a frontier that has no borders.

The best part about this level of research is the collaboration that can happen between colleagues, cross-culturally, and beyond time zones. Often, a post-grad researcher will need to find work others have done, to see what has or has not been accomplished already, and reset their work accordingly.

But, as I was in grad school, many students are living on credit cards and/or student loans, and don’t have the resources to travel to review these documents in person.

That’s where ProQuest Dissertations & Theses comes in.

ProQuest is now providing the first-ever global access to abstracts from 80 Chinese Universities Last year alone, ProQuest added more than 89,000 new full-text dissertations and theses (as well as A&I for 150,000 dissertations) from leading Chinese academic institutions.

And that’s not all. Did you know that ProQuest now has dissertation publishing partnerships with more than 1,700 academic institutions and organizations worldwide? During 2011 alone, 56 new institutions joined the publishing program, including 22 international universities—from Hong Kong, Brazil, Philippines, Canada, India, Malaysia, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

In addition, a series of new partnerships in the UK, including University College London and University of Cardiff, have broadened the scope and diversity of ProQuest’s dissertations archive.

Talk about a vast frontier! We’d love to hear any collaboration stories from you, or comments on how digital access to dissertations and theses may have changed your project in an unanticipated direction.