Feb 12, 2011, 12:27 PM
I imagine copyright registrations are what, in legal parlance, are called ‘a matter of public record’, meaning they are available to anyone.
In the internet age that public record has become even more available.
If you go to http://www.copyright.gov and put in any of our names, if we have a registration there, the data will come up.
People with computer skills can program one to collect this data as soon as it comes online, automatically generate the letters to the new copyright registrants, and correspond with the ones who take the bait.
I got one letter the same day my registration came back. That’s efficiency. They must be making a nice living preying on those who don’t have the experience to know it has nothing to do with them or their musical works. It is only a predation on the belief of the registrant, as demonstrated by their investment of time and money in registering, and their naivete’ in thinking their big break could just come in the mail like that.
Nowadays they phish on MySpace and FaceBook and other online sources of data on ‘believers’ too. One proof of the ‘automated’ nature of their mode of operation is people who get emails or letters from the scammers saying they heard their music on a website and want to do business with them, even though the person does not have music on the site in question.
Politicians and fundraisers have had computer systems like this for years. They contact little old ladies and men with a letter from some noble-sounding organization, saying, “We have to stop the godless communists” or any other easy target. If the recipient responds with a donation, that computer system generates another letter from another noble-sounding organization saying the same thing, or citing some other ‘good cause’ they think that donor will also go for. The more it works the more they prey on that person, and even sell their name to other predators.
All the links at the top of this page (or bottom) are worth exploring. You must educate yourself about how commerce in intellectual property really works, to protect yourself from scammers, and work with those people in the entities where that commerce really works. There’s no substitute, no cheat sheet, no easy A, no magic. There’s study, work, and persistence, just like in any other commercial endeavor.
And even when you get educated and do the work there will be predators all along the way trying to feed off your belief in your work, trying to siphon off a little of your money for themselves. When you’ve done your homework you can run your ‘company’ with a greater probability of not getting robbed. You showed good business sense when you registered your work. Don’t let it stop there. Study. Invest yourself in knowing how to take your art to market without predators taking advantage of you.