I'm a little paranoid about being plagiarized.

Let's say I publish music on Youtube (for example) and several blogs. I only publish the audio on a compressed lossy format. I keep safe on my hard drive the lossless audio file. If for any reason someone decides to plagiarize me, can I go to court and support my authorship with those lossless audio files? Because they wouldn't have the lossless audio.

On the other hand, am I already protected by uploading my material to Youtube? If I send a gmail email to myself, does it help? Does private registration services such safe creative help? I know there is no substitute for an official copyright register, but as an artist, I create a lot of Images, Music Demos, Drawings and is economically impossible to register each of my creations.

Finally, If the material I upload contains footage of my face or even only my voice. Would that be enough as a proof? Or maybe should I add image/audio footprints as a protection measure?

2 Answers 2


From a technical POV, having e.g. a wav file would do not anything for you, because anyone can create a wav file from an mp3. You'd need some way to prove that your "evidence" file contains unreconstructable information only available to the creator. I can always insert a self-video into someone else's work: the question again is, how would this prove that I created the work? (It could, if done right).

If you intend to sue an infringer in federal court, you need to register the work anyhow, and under 17 USC 410(c),

In any judicial proceedings the certificate of a registration made before or within five years after first publication of the work shall constitute prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate. The evidentiary weight to be accorded the certificate of a registration made thereafter shall be within the discretion of the court.

  • I was referring to voice or face because If they somehow steal my video/audio my voice (or face in video) will be present in their work, So that's a hint that it's my work and not theirs. It's like a watermark. Sep 25, 2016 at 17:27
  • It is possible, in many cases, to tell the difference (depending on the specific audio codecs) using a spectogram between a lossy/lossless waveform even if someone has done a mp3 to wav conversion (since the resulting wav would now just be a lossless copy of the lossy encode). Though would this make a difference?
    – user28751
    Dec 2, 2019 at 11:35

People often confuse "proof" and "evidence" and in the legal system we often use them interchangeably when we probably shouldn't. Proof, in a scientific or mathematical sense, is something that is irrefutable and conclusively proves the point unless the assumptions it is based on are proven false. Evidence, on the other hand, is merely something that tends to make a fact at issue in the case more or less likely to be true. (Paraphrasing Federal Rule of Evidence 401, which determines relevant evidence)

Trying to create proof that would be irrefutable such as proof of original authorship is very difficult. But amassing a bunch of evidence is usually pretty easy and often what wins court cases. If you offer a hand-written and dated ledger entry that you created a work on a certain date, and you testified to its veracity in order to get it properly admitted at court, you would likely have more proof than most people for many crucial facts in court cases. Unless there is a reason to suspect the entry is fraudulent, then often the other side won't be allowed to opine that it might be fraudulent. In civil trials, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, however the plaintiff only needs to persuade by a standard of "more likely than not" or to put it another way 51% of the evidence. If your evidence shows that you most likely created the work, simply saying the evidence might have been faked isn't usually enough to get the defendant into a winning "less likely than not" analysis of the situation.

I have seen court cases won on the file system date in a computer, which are pretty easy to tamper with, but absent a reason to suspect tampering, was treated as strong evidence of the date of a document. You can certainly improve from that low threshold of proof, so I wouldn't go overboard trying to document your discovery in a way that is foolproof.

Registration is required in order to file suit, but you don't need to do until you are aware of an infringer. There are many benefits to registering, such as a presumption of validity after 5 years, but cases have been won by people who only registered in order to file suit.

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