Copyright is created the very moment a work assumes a tangible form. As soon as the article is written and it is an original creation - not a copy of someone else’s work - copyright exists. This includes the draft of an article.
Copyright is automatic. The creator or author becomes the owner. Exceptions to this rule are when an employee in the course of his or her employment creates a work, if the work is commissioned and the commissioning party owns the copyright, and if the copyright is sold to another party. Some countries only allow human beings who created the work to establish copyrights because only real persons can create. A legal entity has to acquire or buy the rights and cannot be seen as the original author. Drug bulletins need to ask outside authors to assign the copyright of an article they have written to the bulletin, for example by buying the copyright. It is a good idea to do this as soon as the draft is received to prevent the author from withdrawing the text. For example, the letter to an author who has agreed to write the first draft of an article for the UK Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin states “We will circulate the draft to various specialists in the field, to our Advisory Council and Editorial Board and to the manufacturers of any drugs named. The draft will be edited and probably changed a lot in the light of all the comments. All our articles are the result of such collaboration and are therefore published unsigned. For this reason, Consumers' Association will have copyright in the article from the
‘circulation draft’ stage to publication”.
To strengthen the right, the author or bulletin can mark the publication with a copyright notice: © followed by the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication. This is the international notice of claim, which was established by the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952 administered by UNESCO. If a publication carries the copyright notice, an infringing party can never claim not to have been aware of the copyright. In some countries copyright laws require this notice to inform the public that a copyright is claimed. In some countries it is also possible to register work with a national copyright office. There is usually a fee.