Dragon Queen

Everything was ready.

The Queen’s guards were standing by, watching the door carefully.

The Queen herself sat on her throne, dressed elegantly in a green gown, her long black hair cascading down her shoulders, those sharp blue eyes staring at the door warily.  Her only protection was her intricately woven chainmail beneath her gown, and her sword leaning against the side of the throne. Continue reading “Dragon Queen”

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The Road to Self Publishing- Copyright

copyright

Yeah. This one. You knew we were going to have to talk about it eventually. I know, many authors (possibly even most) don’t like talking about copyright, but it’s something you need to think about when you self-publish. If you’d rather read about the actual writing, you can still find the main Road to Self Publishing page here. Still with me? Good.

First, a little disclaimer. I am not now, nor am I likely to ever be, a lawyer, so take everything in here with a grain of salt. If you’re unsure what do do when it comes to copyright, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to an actual Intellectual Property lawyer. Also, I’ll only be speaking about U.S. copyright here. I know next to nothing about copyright in other countries. Some of the things here might be applicable to them, but others will not. Proceed with caution.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk copyright. I’m sure many of you haven’t thought about your copyright before, and probably won’t think about it after this. That’s not a bad thing.  You should think about it for a little bit, though, as your choices with copyright will affect other publishing decisions going forward.

The first question is; should I even register a copyright at all? The good news is, in the U.S. it’s not necessary to register the copyright. As soon as you create the thing (like this post) the copyright goes to you. The only real use a registered copyright is if you end up going to court. During a lawsuit, the registration acts as a hard date-of-creation and can make the case that the work is actually yours that much stronger. That being said, if you’re planning on staying out of court, a registration is possibly unnecessary.

One of the reasons you might not want to register the copyright is if you choose a more permissive license than “all rights reserved”. One option on that front is Creative Commons. I actually use Creative Commons for all my posts here. Specifically, I use the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You can check you the copyright notice for all work by Eldiste (me) here. All Creative Commons licenses and many others, are part of a family called “Copyleft”. Copyleft licenses aim to ease up on the current copyright paradigm by specifically granting the public some, or all, of the things that typical copyright would normally restrict. For example, the license I put on my work here specifically grants everyone the right to copy, remix, or incorporate my work into their own, as long as they properly credit me. It is also what they call a “viral license”. This means, if you remix, or incorporate my works, the license comes along for the ride. This does not mean that your entire work would fall under the Creative Commons license, only the portions of my work that you incorporated into your own. It does, however, mean that you can’t put any extra DRM on your work, as it would also lock-up the portion of the work covered under Creative Commons with restrictions that the original license didn’t have. There are other copyleft licenses that don’t have viral elements, so dig through the Creative Commons site, and find one that’s right for you.

Of course, if you want to give the people maximum freedom, you can always put your work into the Public Domain. That means, anyone can do literally anything with your work they want, including publishing it exactly as you had it but without your name and profiting off it. I personally like the Public Domain, but for those of us who are smaller, it can be a challenge. Since someone with a larger marketing budget could take your work and use it to get your potential audience, it’s harder for us to use the Public Domain and make money. If that doesn’t bother you, by all means put it in the Public Domain.

But what if you don’t want to deal with copyleft and viral licensing. What if the Public Domain is scary? Well, good news! Like I said above, if you’ve written the thing, you have an “all rights reserved” copyright. This means the only way a somebody can use your work is with your express permission, or if it falls under fair use. So, how do you know if something falls under fair use? Well, sadly, in the US, there is no hard and fast test to tell if something falls under fair use. The only way to know for certain is to go through the courts. There are a few ways you can make an educated guess, though. If it uses a very small portion of the overall work, say one or two lines. If the portion used is not what makes the work unique. If it’s for educational or news reporting purposes. If the use of your work falls under multiple of those cases, there’s a good chance it’s fair use.

Have I cleared up copyright for you? Or just muddied the waters? Either way, I hope this nearly incoherent rant has been informative, and maybe helped you a little bit. Stick around for more nuts-and-bolts publishing in the next one.

Playing with the Devil

It was a light green, brightly glowing orb.  He held it between his hands, never actually touching it, letting it float there.  His wide set blue eyes bore into me, watching me stare at the orb.

“What’s the catch?” I asked, folding my arms over my chest.  I was betting it was something I wouldn’t want to do.  It seemed like an odd thing, for him to be standing there in my kitchen, looking at me with that strange glint in his eyes. Continue reading “Playing with the Devil”

Egg

Here’s an entry for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. The challenge this time was to take a tweet from the Magical Realism Bot on Twitter and write a story inspired by it. Here is the tweet I chose. Enjoy. Continue reading “Egg”

The Office Copy Machine

The elevator dings and the doors open. I get in and press 8, top floor of our little office building. Only a few weeks on the job and I’ve already learned that the place isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s the regional headquarters for a big tech company, though I’d rather not say which. Sounds pretty good, right? Turns out, our office exists mainly for tax purposes, so we aren’t what you would call “important” to the mothership. They bought an office building and staffed us. We have actual work to do, sure, but it’s mostly the boring busywork that the “thinkers” at the mothership don’t want to do. It’s boring, but it’s a job, and it doesn’t pay too bad either. Continue reading “The Office Copy Machine”

Freedom

There was to be a hanging today. It was a strange sense of calm that had washed over the room as the sun rose, even though she knew what was coming. The gallows waited below, the final punishment for her crime. She stared down at it from her castle window, watching the soldiers secure the perimeter of the velvet ropes to keep her citizens close but far enough away that they didn’t interrupt anything. Everyone loved an execution; especially when it was the execution of the criminal princess. A slow smile slid over her dry lips. It was too bad her people would be disappointed today. Continue reading “Freedom”

My Last Moments

Step.

Step.

Step.

Left foot. Right foot. Left again. Over and over. In reality, it’s not far, but when you’re walking to the gallows where you’ll be hanged, it’s an eternity. Step after step, guards on either side, fear mounting with every step. Maybe you wonder if it wouldn’t be better to make a run for it. Let them shoot you, get it over with? Continue reading “My Last Moments”