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Know Your Copy Rights - a guide to the Berne Convention and your rights[V1.0]

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Jon Bon

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Introduction
I often hear people say; "I would share my work, but I'm afraid someone will steal it!". Others will say; "I wanted to release it but I can't afford a copy right.". I've always 'known' this is not how it works and that if you can prove it's yours then that's all that matters for about 85%+ of the places on the planet, but I never really knew 'why' specifically until recently. I took the time to do the research and looked into the proper places and historical facts that dictate these beliefs I had and 'knew' to be true. It turns out that like most everything else on earth there was/is a term to describe the exact 'convention' (agreement) I knew existed and was trying to define, it's called the Berne Convention.

Background
I could go into a long eloquent speech about how this dates back to 1886 but instead I will link you to the resources I used to research this information. As always I begin with wikipedia and I check there sources for a reliable one. I then use the real source for the official information and begin reading, in this case the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) official website.

-Wiki Page - Berne Convention
-WIPO Official Page
-Official WIPO Treaty PDF of Berne Convention Countries List

Berne Convention Whats Your Function?
The Berne Convention is an agreement sign by all the blue countries on the picture below stating that: (I am paraphrasing) 'Each signed country respects the copyrights of the other signed countries, and that Copyright under the Berne Convention must be automatic'. What does this mean exactly? It means you automatically get a copyright on your creative work, written, photographic, or cinemagraphic if you live in one of the blue countries above, it's that simple.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6c/Berne_Convention.png

So What Qualifies For A Copyright?
Copyright can apply to a large array of creative intellectual, or artistic forms/works. Examples are but not limited to; poems, theses, plays, other literary works, movies, dances, musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts, and industrial designs. It all really depends on your local jurisdictions.
In most cases a body of work must meet minimal standards of originality in order to be qualified for a copyright. What does this mean exactly? It means as long as you have something original then it's legally yours to own and sell and tell who else can sell it, etc. As long as the specifics of your 'art' is unique to you then you are able to own the 'right' to 'copy' it and do whatever you want with it provided you can prove you to be the creator.

Conclusion
Know your rights based on where you live. If you are reading this you have ready access to the internet, don't take my word for it, look into it yourself. For the most part however, as long as you can prove you are the original creator of your work, then you have nothing to worry about. Keep sharing your information, it takes more than just one idea to make continuous money. It take's hard work and a whole series of good ideas. If someone is going to steal your one idea, they aren't likely to follow through with it, if your idea is already 'art' then it's copy righted under law (if you live in the blue countries on the map above). Just work hard at your idea, don't steal others, and remember there's no harm in holding a little back just in case. It's great to learn, because knowledge is power.

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