As a digital media author and HTML/CSS template reviewer at ThemeForest.net, I know first hand how frustrating copyright can be — especially for those who pay their bills with the works they create. It’s difficult, at best, to keep an eye out for people infringing on your works let alone attempting to do something about it. Even worse, authors can be accused of copyright infringement by those who may know nothing about it, causing serious problems for (an often innocent) author.
The solution? Well, there really isn’t any clearcut solution but the closest you’ll come to one (without hiring your own copyright lawyer) is Myows [mee-o-s]. Myows is probably the easiest and fastest solution as well. It’s a new service but none-the-less promising.
Today we’ll take a look at Myows, their site’s functionality and sexy design.
You can generally get a decent idea for how serious a service’s creators are by the quality of their presentation (their website). While this isn’t always the case, it tends to be a good starting point. Right off the bat, I’ll say Myows has taken the time to create an interface that isn’t intimidating — it’s straight forward, simple and looks fantastic.
To add a little weight at proving they aren’t messing around, they add some news clippings from very reliable and trusted sources in the industry. This is some great information to display along with the straight forward home page.
Generally, I’m heavily critical on the ease of signup at websites like this. Myows doesn’t let me down either. I’m not a big fan of scrolling within a popup window but I do love the fact that the page doesn’t require reloading, and, let’s face it — we’re all used to scrolling so a bit of it won’t hurt.
Signup is quick and painless, requiring only the necessary information. You’re sent an activation email, which, once activated, takes you straight to logging in. This is how signups should be. Easy.
Once you’ve logged in, Myows keeps it straight forward and sharp looking — which is a refreshing start to handling copyright.
You may have noticed the sidebar information in the screenshot above. Information like this is available on almost all pages, including additional features like search forms. This is great for situations where you have a basic question, which you will.
Myows actually stands for “My Original Works” with your uploads called “OWs” (Original Works). In my opinion, this is creative use of branding that ties things together nicely.
Register a new OW (Original Work)
Once you’ve registered a new OW, you’re taken to the OWs page which is where you’ll browse and manage your OWs.
Search, sort, view and edit your OWs here. Hovering over a registered OW will display links to view/edit, file a new case, create a new license or delete the OW. This might be a touch confusing at first but it keeps the design uncluttered of unnecessary information until it’s needed.
Clicking the view/edit link on an OW gives you a closer look at your OW information with several additional options in the sidebar including licensing your OW and opening a copyright violation case.
As you can see in the above screenshot, I’ve added several additional supporting files for my OW including Photoshop designs, documentation, etc. This will further help protect your OWs.
Again, Myows maintains the straight forward user interface and great looking design elements. For many, this may not be important but it does make using the site more of a pleasure. However, I would very much like to have the ability to upload multiple supporting files at once. Clicking the “upload another” link should automatically open the file selection dialog, effectively eliminating an extra click.
Multi-file uploads are on the way (along with other features), see Account Options below.
License Your OW
Attempting to license your OW, will leave you feeling a bit empty handed after the great user experience so far. However, the service is still in beta and while they don’t have any example licenses to offer yet, they’re on the way after being approved by their legal team (a very good sign of legal review).
You can rest assured, this area will be quite filled in with licenses and sidebar help before Myows leaves the beta stage.
Once you’ve created custom licenses, you’ll be able to view and edit them via the Licenses page.
Get a OW Certificate
Getting a certificate simply brings you to a certificate page, unique to your OW, with the option to email the certificate to anyone of your choice. The certificate includes basic information such as OW title, author name, date registered and some legal info. stating Myows attests to the validity of the certificate.
Each OW certificate is protected by a unique (and long) password, which you (the author) can change if you want.
The certificate includes a download link at the bottom-right of the page (with password), for comparison purposes. This is something you would only give to a court, attorneys, or the support staff for a site like ThemeForest.net to verify copyright information.
While this may not be enough to save you in a serious copyright infringement case, it will go a long ways towards helping you fight your case and will stop most disputes in their tracks.
Your OW’s Banner
Myows generates a banner for your OW with your OW’s ID. Include this in places you show or sell your work as a form of warning or verification that your work is copyright protected by Myows.
This alone will help in deterring some from doing more than thinking about infringing on your copyrighted work.
Creating a new copyright case is pretty straight forward. Select the OW in relation to the case you’re opening and enter some basic details to build your case. You’ll also have the option of grabbing a screenshot of the infringing website.
Then you’ll enter your infringer’s details with the option of running a WHOIS search on their website or attempting to determine who the web host is if you can’t find the website owner.
Next, you’ll be able to view a cease and desist letter to send to the infringing parties.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll wait for a response from the infringer and log it. If the case has been solved, you’d simply click the button to mark the case as solved.
Myows maintains a complete (and downloadable) case history for your records or if the case develops into something more serious. Now imagine trying to do this all yourself or paying legal fees to accomplish this!
Once you’ve created a case, you can also go back and add files or additional information to help support your case if necessary.
Currently Myows offers 512MB of data storage with no options for more. However, as previously stated, Myows is in beta so some leniency is deserved here. In addition to that, paid accounts are on the way. Paid accounts will be very reasonably priced and will offer additional storage, multi-file uploads, multi-users and more features well worth the price.
Max Guedy, director and designer for Myows, has been kind enough to offer a special treat for Web.AppStorm readers which we’ll be releasing the details of in a competition later this week. So stay tuned!
The service is still in beta so you can expect to see many more improvements and new features soon — but for a start, these guys definitely have something great going here.
In terms of the service Myows provides, it’s somewhat of a niche market being an all-online copyright solution — and as far as I can tell, they’re doing their absolute best to make sure they do it right the first time keeping legality first and foremost in mind. There are a few missing features I think could be implemented such as an API and infringement detection, but what they have is a fantastic start.
For U.S. citizens, this isn’t quite a replacement for the U.S. Copyright Office but will go a long ways in aiding you in fighting your copyright battles. For people who don’t proactively take copyright protection seriously, Myows is going to be a lifesaver, not to mention a massive time saver.
Stay tuned later this week for the Myows competition!