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by Paula T. Webb
Many people today have created great materials in their respective fields.
However, most people do not understand the need to protect their materials - in many cases because they listen to everyone else tell them what to do, how to get noticed, or where to "post" their materials - and by everyone else I mean everyone else who has never published anything. Family opinions are great - but business is business.
Case in point:
At a recent party, a young man approached me about his new book that he had been working on for over five years. He felt it was complete and wanted some advice on how to get his name out there as a first-time author. I spent about 45 minutes with him, getting to know what his subject matter was and how he came about writing the book. His book was a specialized engineering process that he had created on his own, and felt that engineering firms may want to purchase the book. I suggested he hire an attorney or agent to represent him to these engineering firms. He looked at me incredulously and point blank said that I had wasted his time because it was apparent I knew nothing about the getting a book noticed much less published.
Realizing there was nothing more to say after our 45-minute conversation, wherein I had reminded him to file a copyright immediately - he informed me that "everyone" had told him to post his entire book on various engineering chat room sites on the Internet, and "that" would get him noticed. My parting words were that he would get noticed, but never sell his book because someone else would claim it as theirs because he refused to register a copyright for the materials. He walked away in disgust shaking his head.
About six months later I was having breakfast at Butters Restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona, and I noticed a young man staring at me from a table across the room. Not knowing who he was I went back to enjoying my cheddar-cheese grits and eggs. A few moments he came over to my table and asked if I was Paula T. Webb, I replied yes. He asked to sit down. I motioned for him to sit which he did. He seemed rather nervous so I asked him what he wanted. It turned out he was the young man that had approached me at that party almost a year prior...the one who said I wasted him time. Trying not to smile, I asked him how his book sales were coming along. At this point, he almost started crying and had trouble composing himself. I waited for him to speak which took quite a few moments. Of course at this point I already knew what he would say.
He related to me that he did not take my advice, and listened to everyone else that he knew (none of whom had every written a book much less published one), and posted his complete book on the Internet to 'get his name out there' as they had all told him. Of course he got no leads, he had no sales, he never published the book except in the engineering chat room sites waiting for his big break. Eventually he got his big break - a letter from a large influential law firm in New York City telling him to "cease and desist" from using any of the materials in his book because a certain engineering firm now owned it through a copyright.
Firms search the Internet for new materials that have not been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office...and scoop them up, register them as their own, and therefore the person who created the materials is left out in the cold. And that is what happened to this young man. He did not spend the minimal registration fee with the copyright office to "protect" his 5 years of effort - and so his materials were open to being registered by anyone or everyone else on the Internet once he posted the book.
Now, if he had followed my advice, that same engineering firm or any other engineering firm - might have liked the book/materials so much, they may have offered to have him license the materials to them to use...bringing him regular income. This is standard business practice guys - no matter what field you may be writing about.
So before you listen to your friends, a co-worker, a neighbor - anyone else about how you should "get your name out there" please call our office for a FREE chat about how to protect and promote your Intellectual Property, as well as get it licensed in your respective field of work.