Bellevue, WA asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Washington

Q: Does mailing a copy of original work to yourself give you any copyright protection?

I have a brochure I made in 1998 I only have the one copy that I mailed myself to protect the work. I want to update it but don't want to lose any protection I might have by opening the envelope. Is it protecting me, and thus needs to remain unopened, or is that an urban myth?

2 Lawyer Answers
Will Blackton
Will Blackton
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC

A: This is an urban myth. Original creative works receive copyright protection as soon as they are created in some retrievable form, that is, when they're written or printed. Mailing yourself the work does nothing to enhance that copyright protection. However, filing for statutory copyright protection with the U.S. Copyright Office, and mailing a copy to them, will afford you better ways to protect your copyright protections.

Consult with an attorney if you need assistance filing for copyright protection with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Glenn B. Manishin agrees with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

J.D. Houvener
J.D. Houvener
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Mountlake Terrace, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: Will Blackton is spot on. You don't get anything for mailing yourself a letter - save yourself the stamp! You actually have legal and enforceable copyright protection on any creative expression as long as it is fixed in a tangible means. So as long as you put pen to paper, keyboard to digitally stored file, music on a track or paint to canvas, you have protection.

To further fortify and enable enforcement of your creative work to prevent others from infringing your copyright, it is helpful to register it with the Library of Congress. While you can do this on your own, many artists choose to have an attorney handle the copyright application to make sure everything is done right.

Will Blackton agrees with this answer

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.