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Tomorrow, it’s both April Fools Day and “Don’t Be a Fool!” Day. While everyone else is horsing around playing pranks on each other, we are going to tend to business. Are you ready?
Don't Be A Fool Day-Sweet Eventide Creative IP Day of Action
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Step 1: Register at least one copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.

If you did not have time to prep for a batch registration, hopefully you know what your best-selling or most popular work is without even thinking. If you have not previously registered that work, this is the one to tackle today. Put on some music, open up a Firefox tab (the recommended browser for this task) and launch the tutorial.

It will cost $35 for one registration and it should take 1-2 hours, max. Let’s do this!

If you do nothing else today, you are already ahead of 99% of professional photographers in the U.S., according to the American Society of Media Photographers. (pg. 3, http://asmp.org/pdfs/CO-comments-20120223.pdf)

Step 2: Prepare a template for a cease and desist letter.

First, review Lela’s post about how and when to use a cease and desist letter. 

Remember, there is no one size fits all template. Here is one from Tech Republic that you can start with but the point of a template is to customize it as much as you can.

The point of this action item today is to have a document ready to go with your business information edited while leaving room for the specific infringement details if and when you need to use the letter. Draft it on your letterhead, and if you don’t have letterhead yet, make it today. (I just rebranded so I will be doing this step today myself).

3. Create or update the copyright policies on your website.

Place your policies as a notice in a visible place on your website. Most people put it in their sidebar. Beware of the risks of relying only on Creative Commons licenses. 

Here are three levels of achievement for this step.

Good: If you don’t have a copyright notice on your website and/or shop, today is the day. If nothing else, start with an All Rights Reserved notice with the current year.

Better: Add on what permissions/restrictions you give people regarding blogging and pinning your work. State how you want to be credited if that is a requirement for your work.

Best: Kim Niles has one of the most comprehensive legal sections I have ever seen on an artist’s website because it clarifies the difference between purchasing her work and purchasing the rights to USE her work anywhere.

Whether you do one, two or three steps today, tomorrow, this week (or when you can carve out the time), you can sleep better knowing you have incorporated sound business practices to protect the beautiful things you work so hard to create all year.

Did the work? Then grab the badge because you are not a fool!

Don't Be A Fool Day-Sweet Eventide Creative IP Day of Action
Right click to save your I’m Not A Fool badge designed by Abigail Page
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Editor’s note: Inspired by the response to her recent OMHG post Jessica created this campaign to help us all protect our IP-thank you for watching our backs! If you have information on how creatives who live outside the US can take part & the steps required to register a copyright in your country please share with us in the comments below!
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  • http://twitter.com/JoyfulRoots Kimberly Kling

    Thanks for this wonderful post! It seems I need to get on the ball, but will have a lot of art to register. Do you know if there is a tutorial about registering a body of work and where one would do that? I’m grabbing the badge and spreading the word!

    • http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/ Jessika Hepburn

      Kimberly Kling & Alison Moore English hi lovelies! Jessica shared some great links and information on bulk registering work in her last post: http://ohmyhandmade.com/2013/small-business-tips/sweet-eventides-infringement-casestudy-resources-to-protect-yourself/ here are the direct links to the US Copyright office
      http://www.copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial.pdf
      http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl124.html

      Let us know how it goes!

      • http://twitter.com/SweetEventide Jessica Nichols

        Thank you Jessika for showing everyone where to learn more about bulk registration.

      • http://www.facebook.com/alison.english Alison Moore English

        thanks so much. It looks like I have some homework to do. :)

      • http://twitter.com/JoyfulRoots Kimberly Kling

        Thank you Jessika and Jessica! I’m a little confused, because it looks like bulk registrations are only for photographs? I had one artist tell me that she registers all her work for an annual fee of $140 but I did not see that anywhere…they don’t make it easy!

      • http://twitter.com/JoyfulRoots Kimberly Kling

        I was able to get a hold of the other artist I was talking about and what she meant was, she submits a group of work when she registers with that $35 fee and she does it 4 times a year = $140. So I guess you can also submit a group of work in one registration for $35.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andiperullo Andi Perullo de Ledesma

    Great reminder!

    • http://twitter.com/SweetEventide Jessica Nichols

      Thanks Andi!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/alison.english Alison Moore English

    I am in the same boat as Kimberly. I create all my images and patterns for my invitations and stationery. Do you suggest that I copyright the images and patterns or the invitations/notecards/etc too. They are all images but I guess I am wondering if all should be registered?

    • http://twitter.com/SweetEventide Jessica Nichols

      Alison, I would start with the images and patterns while you research if you need to do the invitations/notecards separately.

      The USCO has a toll-free number for questions: 877-476-0778 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday to Friday.

      You can email copyright questions using this url: http://www.copyright.gov/help/general-form.html

      Here is the help link for everything copyright:
      http://www.copyright.gov/help/

      • http://www.facebook.com/alison.english Alison Moore English

        Thanks, Jessica! I really appreciate the info!

  • http://twitter.com/mariabrophy Maria Brophy

    Great reminder, thanks for lighting a fire under all of us!