By Bill Kirk

Call me old-fashioned.

But there's something reassuring about the notion that some place in an old office building in Washington, DC, there could be a fellow at his dimly-lit desk, with rubber stamp in hand, wearing green sleeve garters and an eye shade. There he sits, waiting for my hardcopy (albeit paperback) book to arrive so he can apply his special notations, speak his incantations ("here comes another one"), and record my unique number in a massive, leather-bound registry, which will preserve and protect my (and my artist's) work for all time.

I'm imagining something along the lines of what could be an opening scene from an Indiana Jones movie, with all the textured golds and browns, wood and leather. The scene infused with mystery and intrigue and an almost palpable sense of historical urgency to get the covenant between me and the nation properly recorded.

Sure I've taken all the steps in and out of vogue over the years of mailing a copy of some particular thing to myself, now filed away in its postmarked, sealed envelope as proof that I created it. One might do the same thing now, I suppose, by sending files via e-mail to oneself (or others), allowing the computer time stamp to establish proof of existence.

These days, although I could be more religious about it, I've got an external hard drive to periodically backup my writing and I have hard copies of most of my stories in their various stages of completion. Also my web site content is protected by my web site host. But there's something very comforting about having a copy of my book(s) filed away in the nation's capital. Or, better yet, maybe it will find a home in that cavernous underground vault we saw recently on TV, designed to preserve the nation's documents for 5,000 years.

Will I ever have to take my copyright to court to wage war against an infringer? Probably not. Could having such a document be a little like having a baptismal certificate? Although I may never have to show it before taking communion, I'll have it if I need it.

Who knows, I may get to a place one day when going through the copyright process will seem unnecessarily tedious and mundane. For now, whether required or not, I'm looking forward to my long anticipated rite of passage of the step-by-step, bureaucratic dance with the guy in the green eye shades.

Come back...

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