Ignorant authors, composers and artists assume that the postal service’s cancellation date on the stamped envelope proves that the document inside was created prior to the cancellation date, and that creators can use that date in a suit for copyright violation.
Its cost is merely the price of a stamp (currently 49 cents in the USA) and an envelope (currently as little as 40 for a buck at Dollar Tree).
While 52 cents is much less than the $35 cost of a real copyright from the U.S. Library of Congress, the 52 cents is a complete waste of money, time and emotion. It accomplishes nothing!
- The scheme has a fundamental flaw because anyone can mail an empty, unsealed envelope, receive it, store it and years later insert a document and seal the stamped-and-canceled envelope. Judges and defense attorneys know this.
The poor man's myth survives and is perpetuated by ignorant publishing 'experts.'
- Helen Gallagher’s fault-filled book, Release Your Writing, mentions the poor man’s copyright as a supplement to a real copyright to prove when a document was created. It’s a waste of postage.
- The following dangerous and naive misinformation was posted on the Facebook page of Peppertree Press, and on the blog of Peppertree boss Julie Ann Howell: "My favorite way to copyright might sound old fashioned; however... it works. Print out your manuscript and then mail it to yourself and do not open it. Tuck it away in a drawer. It will stand up in a court of law." BULLSHIT!
- An inaccurate website called US Intellectual Property Law says a poor man's copyright "can be helpful in some instances." BULLSHIT!
- (above) Nathan, a foolish "writer and film director" provides visual instructions for achieving non-protection on the YouTube ExpertVillage channel. He is not an expert on copyrights.
- On the Kidlit.com blog, former literary agent Mary Kole wrote: "print your document out and mail it to yourself. Keep the sealed, postmarked envelope around in the unlikely case that a dispute arises."
Some people believe that a creative work must be registered with the government to be protected by copyright. That’s not true. Your precious work is legally protected from copycats from the moment of creation without your having to fill out any forms or having to pay even one penny to the Feds. Your work is copyrighted even if you don’t put the © copyright symbol on it.
- Self-publishing companies often charge much more to get a copyright. CrossBooks charges $204. Xlibris charges $249 or more. Schiel & Denver (apparently defunct) charged $250.
- Online legal services supplier LegalZoom charges $149.
- It takes less than 15 minutes to register a copyright online with the Library of Congress.