on copyrights

What is copyright? It's the right of the author own his or her own work and all copies that are made of it, in whatever form that might be. In short, what I write and create is my property, and mine alone. This is because it's WORK. Authors work hard to write what they do, whether it's a book or something on their webpage. I think most people agree that the person who produces the work should own the work, unless he or she has agreed to sell it to a particular person or persons. For example, you have every right to buy my books, and after you do so, you have every right to fold, spindle, or mutilate them. You do not have the right to make COPIES (hence, copyright) and use those copies for your own purposes in any way, shape, or form.

So, if you take something I write--whether it's on one of my web pages or one of my books--and use for your own purposes without asking my permission, you've stolen my work. Stealing is illegal. This means I--more likely my publisher, to whom I have granted rights to use my work for a short period of time, who has paid me for my work, and who has a lot more money than I do--has the right to take you to court for using anything out of any of my books without my permission. And publishers, especially big New York publishers, really, really hate it when someone else uses stuff without permission that the publisher has paid exclusive rights for. Think about the big music companies and what they have done to Napster. Big New York publishers can do the same thing.

Anytime you see something like Karen Harbaugh, Copyright 2000 or Karen Harbaugh © 2000, this means I have copyrighted it, regardless of whether it's on my website or in one of my books. It means it's my work and if you take any part of it and use it without my permission, you are stealing and breaking the law.

However, because I am usually delighted when someone thinks my words are of any worth, I'm willing to share, if you are willing to do the following things:

  1. Contact me and ask permission, and let me know who you are, and specifically what it is you want to use and for what purpose.
  2. Mention on your web site--or wherever you use my work--my name and that this is MY work, and that I have given permission for you to use it. Please post the URL to my website, my snail mail address, and the words, "Copyright Karen Harbaugh 2000" on it. For an example of the kind of citation I would like to see, go to my Writing Page.
    • If you do this, I will be more than happy to add a link your web site on my web site. I do believe in mutual and friendly promotion.
  3. Let me know what your web site URL is if you are posting any of my work on your web site. If it's in a non-profit print publication, please let me know the publication's name and in what issue my work will appear.
  4. I am very much a capitalist, and the payment I receive yearly for my fiction and articles amounts to much less than that of a migrant farm worker. If you are using any of my work for commercial purposes other than for review of my work, literary analysis, or selling my books NEW (not used--I receive no royalties from used book sales), I reserve the right to demand payment for the use of my work. That I post my writing work on my web site so that anyone may view it for free in no way, shape, or form indicates that I will allow it to be viewed free of charge anywhere else.

If you have any questions, please contact me via email, or snail mail me at: Karen Harbaugh, P.O. Box 461, Auburn, WA 98072-0461.

Thank you for your consideration.
--Karen Harbaugh