Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Got Any Ideas? They Don't Matter. Writing Does.

Ideas cannot be copyrighted. The copyright law protects “unique expressions” of them, not the ideas themselves. The same thing is true about titles. For instance I went shopping for “The Gift: The 12 Greatest tools of personal growth—and how to put them into practice by Shad Helmstetter, but when I asked the clerk if “The Gift” was in stock, she came up with “The Gift: A Novel by Richard Paul Evans.

A title is like an idea and not the author’s own unique expression. You would need to read the book to discover that. However, titles are very important and can help sell your book but that is another post.

Don’t discard any ideas just because you read a book with a similar idea or watched a movie with the same thoughts as yours. Those ideas could be the topic of your block buster novel. “American Graffiti” could have been MY story. It was so typical of my generation and I used to think writing about car hops on roller skates would be dull but then no one has read about my experience.

Express your ideas in original ways and from your perspective. You and I can look at a painting and when asked to give a critique, what do you think would happen? If you really want to protect your idea, you can turn it into a finished manuscript. Then you can register it at the Copyright Office. According to Harold Underdown’s FAQ’s he says the "Poor man's copyright" -- mailing yourself a copy of your manuscript so that it gets a postmark--will, I understand, do you no good.

Harold Underdown of The Purple Crayon has a great article and some FAQ’s on copyright law. Read the post here.

Write it down,