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Q: Proving a text has been written by me ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   9 Comments )
Subject: Proving a text has been written by me
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: paul_swot-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 22 Jul 2002 04:55 PDT
Expires: 21 Aug 2002 04:55 PDT
Question ID: 43681
I have a good idea. This idea has to be revealed to a small group of
people. I fear that the idea will be stolen. The idea can be expressed
in writing.
I need a way of proving that a text has been written by me at a
specified date. I was thinking something like sending it to myself in
a letter, so it will be stamped with a date - only something more
"official", more generally acknowledged. Maybe a there is a website
that will state that it has recieved the text at a specified date, but
one that i can trust not to read or distribute the text. A patent
takes too much time and money.
I am open to any solution. What I want is a way of proving that a text
has been  written by me at a certain date, without making the text
public. I live in Denmark.

Thanks from paul_swot-ga
Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
Answered By: till-ga on 22 Jul 2002 05:54 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Let me propose the following:
The best way to protect your idea is as you know a patent. That seems
to be as complicated and expensive in Denmark as it is in Germany and
probably anywhere else in the world.

Solution one:
Visit a notary and ask him to accredit the document you´ve given him.
I´m sure that this is rather simple and can´t be very expensive. It
should be similar to certifying a contract.

Solution two:
If the fees of a notary seem to be to high try the same procedure with
a lawyer. At least here in Germany those fees will be lower than those
of a notary.

Solution three:
Encrypt the document with a safe encryption algorithm.  This sounds by
far more complicated than it is. Just encrypt you file with software
and the copy and paste your encrypted  text into the mail program
(e.g. outlook.) then send the mail to close friends and ask them to
keep the mail in their inbox for you.
Such encryption software is available as freeware. For example :
“ FreeEncrypt for Outlook   .2 version. The size is 387KB, this is a
freeware, you can use it freely. You can use it without any
registration. It is a easiest and quickest encrypt email tool. It can
tight integrate with the Microsoft Outlook 2000 or later. It supports
to create the encryption rules for emails, it helps us to
encrypt/decrypt the email automatically. FreeEncrypt for Outlook
cryptographic algorithm is similar Vigenere. This is a famous and
quick cryptographic algorithm”
Encrypt Genie
( )

Remark: The registered version  (about 60 $) of the software provides
full 128 bit encryption which is considered to be “state-of –the-art”
at present. Nevertheless the free version should be safe as well.

There´s another encryption solution which is available online. One
disadvantage is that there is a 1,000 character limit for text. The
advantage is that it is available for free:
“ There's a new encryption technology on the scene and it's blowing
PGP right out of the game. No Public/Private Key mumbo jumbo. It's
online, it's 128 bit encryption, it'll encrypt up to a 1,000 character
message, it's simple as a brick to use, and it's FREE! “
Encryption link
( )

A last remark:
At least here in Germany ANYTHING you publish in any media is
protected by law at once without anything formal to be done. The only
thing you have to do is prove the date when you´ve published it.

Search Strategy:
I visited the open source directory and selected the category Top:
Computers: Software: Shareware: Windows: Utilities: Security:
Encryption (45)


Request for Answer Clarification by paul_swot-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:05 PDT
Assuming the conditions are the same in Denmark and Germany:
What is a notary? A kind of lawyer? How can I find one? What price should I expect?


Clarification of Answer by till-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:44 PDT
Here´s a defintion of notary:
"also called NOTARY PUBLIC, public official whose chief function in
common-law countries is to authenticate contracts, deeds, and other
documents by an appropriate certificate with a notarial seal. In Roman
law the notarius was originally a slave or freedman who took notes of
judicial proceedings. The work of the modern notary, however,
corresponds more to that of the Roman tabularius, who took and
preserved evidence. In medieval times the notary was an ecclesiastical
officer who preserved evidence, but his duties were mainly secular.
The modern notary is appointed, after making application, by a secular
official; the appointment usually becomes effective on payment of a
fee, on the taking of an oath of office, and, in many parts of the
United States, on the deposit of a bond to assure the proper
performance of duties.
In the civil-law countries of western Europe, and in Latin American
and French areas of North America, the office of notary is a much more
important position than in the United States and England. The
civil-law notary may be roughly described as a lawyer who specializes
in the law relating to real estate, sales, mortgages, and the
settlement of estates but who is not allowed to appear in court.
Documents prepared by him or authenticated in the proper manner are,
in these countries, admissible in court without further proof of their
authenticity; the notary guarantees the identity of the parties.

In the Anglo-American-law countries, on the other hand, courts will
not accept as true the facts certified by a notary except in the case
of a bill of exchange protested abroad. Nor may a notary draw up legal
documents such as wills, contracts, mortgages, and deeds for a fee,
for such work constitutes the practice of law. Nevertheless, many
statutes require that the authenticity of specified documents be
certified by a notary; the most common of these in the United States
are deeds conveying land. In these cases the notary must not take the
acknowledgment of a person who does not appear before him or who is
not known to him unless evidence of identification is presented.

Certain other officials may be given notarial functions by statute,
such as justices of the peace, consular officials, certain military
officers, and various court officials."
form (offline source):
The Encyclopedia Britannica (CD ROM Deluxe Edition 2001) 

Sorry that I´ve  forgotten to give you an idea about the fees in my
first answer. The fees will be rather low. For an accreditation of a
document of one page there will be a fee of appr. 45 euro.

Search strategy:
( ://

paul_swot-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Well done!

Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: the_bursar-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:05 PDT
Depending on what exactly you wish to do, it may be that a
Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the parties that need to see the
documentation behind this idea my be enough.  This does not protect
the document itself, but (if properly drafted) stops people who've
seen it from revealing it to third parties.  In the UK, at least, an
NDA can be between companies, individuals, or an individual and
Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: weisstho-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:12 PDT
My colleague Till's answer, as always, was very complete and well
written.  It is very good advice.

If you were located in the States, I would have suggested the Notary
route, which here is very inexpensive (US$5 or less - usually free).
The caution with some notary laws is that they only attest a
signature, not to content. Some states/jurisdictiions do permit a
notary to attest to the contents of a document. You may want to
inquire on this if you visit a notary.

Seeing an attorney is always a good idea. Attorneys routinely keep
certain documents, wills and trusts, for example. If your worst fears
are realized and someone grabs your idea, an attorney would be an
excellent witness at a trial. The only caution here is to make sure
that the engagement of the attorney is with that eventuality in mind
(there may be issues of attorney/client privilege, court rules that
prohibit certain attorney testimony, etc.)

If you do go the attorney route, you may want to consider an attorney
specializing in intellectual property - that way if you decide to go
ahead with patent/trademark/copyright protection, you'll already be
familiar with the law firm, and vice versa.

Best of luck with your idea!

Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: paul_swot-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:15 PDT
To the_bursar-ga: Thanks, but the NDA sounds more like something You
would do in a buisiness situation. This is not about money, I only
want to be sure that I get the credit for my idea some time in the
future, without having to publish it now. The notary suggestion in the
answer sounds promising, if it is not too expensive.
Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: paul_swot-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:20 PDT
To weisstho-ga: Thanks, I will keep your comments in mind. I like the
notary/attorney solution.
Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: fons-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:20 PDT
Till's answer is really rather complete.

In the Netherlands there is one additional (and cheaper) way. You can
go with a closed and sealed envelop (containing your document) to any
post office and let them chop it. Giving it to a third person (like a
lawyer or a notary) would add value, but will cost money and time.
Perhaps you should ask if the Danish Post offices offer a similar


Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: paul_swot-ga on 22 Jul 2002 06:36 PDT
To fons-ga: I like Tills answer too. I like the sealed envelope
solution, but I doubt that it is possible to seal an envelope in a way
that makes it clear that 1) It has been sealed at the date of the
postal-stomp. 2) It has not been opened and re-sealed since.
Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: fons-ga on 22 Jul 2002 07:00 PDT
The traditional way to seal an envelop is this red kind of wax (you
might know if from the movies) and then put a real seal on in. You put
in on such a place that you have to break the seal or tear apart the
paper to remove the content.
Nowadays that red seal is replace by a signature and a date, put over
de lid of the envelop and the backside. At the post office they can
secure that too.
Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: paul_swot-ga on 22 Jul 2002 07:15 PDT
To fons: Thanks, I will ask in my local post-office.
Subject: Re: Proving a text has been written by me
From: journalist-ga on 22 Jul 2002 17:18 PDT
An excellent answer you received.  I'd like to add that text could
possibly be copyrighted through the United States Copyright Office as
a literary work for a fee of $30 US - I believe most countries honor a
US copyright - not all, but most.

Register a US copyright
"Literary works may be published or unpublished and include
nondramatic textual works with or without illustrations"

US copyright registration main page

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