The best way to protect your writing is to make it obsolete and outdated by cranking out fresh new relevant material every day. The worst way to protect your writing is to threaten and intimidate a publisher, unless of course you consider your writing career to be over.
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What to do if Someone Violates Your Copyright

As a publisher, my job sometimes gets pretty boring. I spend most of my time reading articles that aren't fit to be published, and formatting articles that are. So, when I received the email message below (relevant individuals names withheld), I was delighted to have a break from my tedious work.

It has come to my attention that you have made an unauthorized use of my article entitled Marketing Yourself in this Ever Changing Field of Law (the "Work") see its original publication in the preparation of a work derived therefrom. I reserve all rights in the Work, which was first published in 2001 for Paralegal Press Newsletter. Your website has posted a work entitled "Marketing Yourself as a Paralegal" by ________ which is essentially identical to the Work and clearly used the Work as its basis.
As ________ has neither asked for nor received permission to use the Work as the basis for "Marketing Yourself as a Paralegal" nor to make or distribute copies, including electronic copies, of same, I believe you have willfully infringed my rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) therein.
I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing works derived from the Work, and all copies, including electronic copies, of same, that you deliver to me, if applicable, all unused, undistributed copies of same, or destroy such copies immediately and that you desist from this or any other infringement of my rights in the future. If I have not received an affirmative response from you by February 3, 2007 indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, I shall take further action against you.

Let me first say that I sympathize with the writer of this message because sometimes writing comes easy, and sometimes writing feels like you're dragging an anchor to which an ocean liner is still attached. If this individual's work was indeed stolen or plagiarized, that's unfortunate.

Since the advent of the Internet, with a simple copy and paste, everyone's work is easily accessible for theft. On the Internet, hard-earned work is being stolen all day long every day of the year. Unless you've got lot's of time on your hands or that ocean liner is stuffed with money to hire lawyers, there's not a darn thing you can do about it.

Lets go over the email message to see what mistakes were made, and how you can go about protecting your work in the proper manner.

Ask Politely

Any professional writer will immediately see one major glaring mistake in the message. It's suicidal for a writer to threaten and intimidate a publisher. For one thing, a publisher doesn't plagiarize, a publisher only publishes what someone else may, or may not have plagiarized. Secondly, a publisher will probably warn their colleges that this writer is troublesome. In other words, the writer could be black-listed.

This individual should have approached the publisher and explained the situation politely. This would have given the writer more credibility and better rapport. Most publishers have an infinite source of material to publish, so one article doesn't mean a thing to them, and if you ask nicely, they'll just remove the article immediately - no problem. In fact, I've done that many times.

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