free sco unix

Robert Bonomi bonomi at
Fri Jun 17 22:02:25 UTC 2011

> From owner-freebsd-questions at  Fri Jun 17 12:22:42 2011
> Date: Fri, 17 Jun 2011 12:03:47 -0500
> From: Alex Stangl <alex at>
> To: freebsd-questions at
> Subject: Re: free sco unix
> On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 10:28:51AM -0600, Chad Perrin wrote:
> > Registration aids enforcement.  Of course, there's always the "poor man's
> > copyright registration" approach, where the moment you have something you
> > would like to protect by copyright, you can seal it up in an envelope and
> > mail it to yourself.  Keep it sealed.  If you ever need proof of
> > copyright, including date of copyright, you can then take the sealed
> > envelope with you to court to show the postmark date, unseal the
> > envelope, and show the full text of the document inside.
> > 
> > Of course, it's not *perfect*.  It may be that postmarks stop being
> > regarded as suitable proof of date at some point, thanks to increasing
> > ability to fake a postmark.  Your sealed envelope trick only works once.
> > You need to protect that sealed envelope against loss and damage.  You
> > would need to do this for *everything* for which you want to have some
> > kind of proof of date of copyright, which can fill up file cabinets in a
> > hurry.  This is why copyright registration is still useful.
> Sorry to contribute to this long thread that is only peripherally
> related to FreeBSD, but I have to ask -- does this trick really work?
> You can send yourself unsealed (or just very lightly sealed, or with
> manilla envelopes, just use the clasp, not the gum) envelopes whenever
> you like, and then insert contents & seal at some later date. It seems
> a flimsy "proof" that the contents actually were in the envelope as of
> the postmark date. I'd be curious to find out whether courts have
> really accepted this, or whether it's more of an urban legend.

OK, time for somebody who really knows about this stuff to wade in.

Under 'modern' copyright law -- i.e. in any country that has adopted
the 'Berne Convention" treaty on copyright law:

  1) Copyright protection attaches _automatically_ when an 'original work 
     of authorship' is first 'fixed in a tangible medium of expression'.
  2) The copyright belongs to the person who created the 'original work'
     in question, *unless* it is a 'work done for hire', which covers 
     almost all work done by an employee, _and_ *some* work done by a
     contractor.  In general, if using a contractor, the contract should
     specify that copyright is assigned to the person paying for the work.
  3) In the U.S. 'registering' the copyright with the copyright officE (a
     part of the Library of Congress) gives you certain legal rights that
     are *NOT* available if you have not registered the copyright. T
     includes 'statutory' and 'punitive' damages, instead of just 'actual'
     damagers.  Registration also 'conclusively establishes' the date of
     authorship as 'not after' the date of registraton.
  4) In the U.S., one can officially register copyright on something up to
     SIX MONTHS _after_ first 'publication'.
  5) To establish copyright infringement, there are several things you have
     to 'prove' ("by a prepondernace of the evidence") in court:
       1) that you authored the work in question.
       2) that you authored it _before_ the infringer produced their 'copy'.
       3) that the 'infringer' _had_access_ to your work.

The 'mail it to yourself' approach does *not* give you the same legal 
protections as actual 'registration' does.

The 'mail it to yourself' approach _may_ be used as evidence in an attempt
to 'persuade' the court with regard to the date of authorship.  It _is_
subject to challenge for the reasons cited above.  In fact the 'old' wisdom
was to have someone 'trustworthy', like your lawyer,  mail it 'registered 
mail, return receipt', because the receipt was produced by the Post Office,
and  _not_ subject to manipulation by the putative 'author', and that 
reputable 'third party' can testify as to what they put in the envelope that
was mailed.  Of course, in _todays_ world, just sending registered mail is 
-more- expensive than a Copyright Office filing.  Without even considering
what you'd have to pay your lawyer.  <wry grin>

The 'mail it to yourself' approach is _not_ a "slam-dunk" for establishing
authorship, *or* date of authorship. Nor is it automatically superior to
other recordskeeping methods.

I'ts _MUCH_ simpler, to just sign and date a copy of the work, and have a
notary public 'witness' the signature.

One final poinnt -- copyright law _does_ recognize that parallel *independant* 
development _can_ occur.  Two people *can* write works that are virtually 
identical, *without* either having any knowledge of the other persons work.  
In this situation, they _both_ own the copyright on their own work, but 
-neither- can prevent the other from publishing that "other", virtually 
identical, work. 

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