How Will Courts Handle A “Poor Man’s Copyright”?

31 10 2016

I recently came across a complaint (in Vernon v. CBS) referencing a “poor man’s copyright,” and I couldn’t recall seeing the term in a legal filing or document before. This made me curious about whether any courts had discussed the term, so I searched for the term “poor man’s copyright” in Westlaw and Lexis and found three cases:

1) Smith v. State, 901 N.Y.S.2d 902 (N.Y. Ct. Claims July 14, 2009):

2) Barefoot v. Goulian, 2010 WL 2696760 (E.D. N.C. July 7, 2010) (cites omitted):

3) Swensen v. Bender, 2008 WL 2382757 (Minn. Dist. Ct. Feb. 22, 2008): “Two years prior, Swenson had begun mailing her research results to herself to produce a paper trail, otherwise known as a poor man’s copyright.”


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