How to Make a Public Service Announcement ... Again

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Reader Comments (84)

Oh Admiral Antelope, you are fantastic. I laughed quietly to myself. I would have laughed out loud, but I'm at work. Wasting company money by reading interweb comics. Saving company money by ... raising moralle? Yeah, that's what I'll tell the lawyers.

PS Sorry if I spelled moralle wrong. I forgot to mention how much I suck at spelling, and moralle is a hard word.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBen in AZ

"Sorry to have bothered you with the rerun."

It's not a rerun. The date was change, therefore making it a new comic. I look forward to the 'sequel' next year.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterC.S.Strowbridge

This is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. The comic itself wasn't bad either. Scott, either you were intentionally ‘pushing buttons’ or you haven't yet been around long enough to learn that the pedants will never be satisfied. It is impossible to reason with them or to preempt their soapboxing over the ’issues‘ they deem so important.

Now, speaking of copyrights, you might need to lawyer up and get after the folks at MacLife magazine. Over on their web site right now no less than seven of their articles start with How to... — they must be infringing on you somehow!

Actually, you might want to hit that site and use it for fodder for some new comics. I mean, How to Create Moody Mono Shots in iPhoto is just rife with humorous possibilities. Or not.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermstrange

These PSAs create an increase in love towards your comic directly proportional to the increase in hate for humanity in general.

Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

I loved Missy wandering into frame in panel 2 and mocking you. It's very similar to how my 8 year old son torments his older brother when he is very seriously recording himself with our video camera. You showed great restraint, Scott, in not turning around and yelling at her, "Stop it! You're ruining my movie!"

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervtashore

I LOVED today's comic, and even some of the comments!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Ha. I've been reading this comic a year now. Please run this comic (with the correct date changes) each year.

Also, having Missy in the comic makes it all the funnier.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTabitha

I'll just make a few citations and move along with my life. Really, if Scott cares that much (other than the visceral amusement at starting this same discussion every year or the desire to create schadenfreude at the expense of his own comment threads), he should talk to a lawyer who specializes in Copyright law; preferably one who focuses on serial publication.

See "Copyright Basics"

"Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is “created” when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. “ (pg 3, col 2, 1st paragraph)

So, affixing the date of creation is correct. However,

"Works Originally Created on or after January 1, 1978 ... For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter." (pg5, col2, penultimate paragraph)

If the work was made for hire (which I don't believe it is) or Scott is lying about his real identity (and does not reveal it to the US Copyright office), he could ALSO (or possibly instead) affix the date of publication.

And if he re-draws an older comic, he should affix both dates.

(For works published before 1978, see

"Works Originally Created and Published or Registered
before January 1, 1978: Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published with a copyright notice or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form."(pg 6, col 1, paragraph 1)

So, if scott were to take a time machine back 34 years or more, and publish then, he should affix that year. Although that makes life interesting, as it is unclear whether that would only be relevant for pieces written in the older time period, or if newer pieced published due to time travel would fall under the old rules. Stupid legislatures for not anticipating time travel.)

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarphod

I'm with all the loyal fans who say, we need to see THIS strip on an annual basis! And if we comment on your copyright date, it's only because we know it irks you. Enjoy your well-deserved time off, Scott!

@brazilian_guy - Scott lives in Central Florida - no snow. pbth!

@Paddy - "Mrs. Scott" has her own blog - it's as entertaining as Basic Instructions, photos instead of comix. You can find her at

btw, Scott, can you switch back to the old Captcha codes? I don't have a keyboard that will allow me to type accented letters or interrobangs?!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBI Fan

Please post this comic again next year ! I'll miss it if you don't. It will be a reminder that I've spent another year reading your awesome comics. Thanks for doing what you do.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

And a new tradition is born.

I've added a recurring appointment to my Outlook calendar "Annual comment about Scott's incorrect copyright date"

Scheduled for the First Monday of January

For those who would like to know how to do so - see this photo: How to begin the new year with enjoyment

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrent Kobayashi

If it still shows 2011 as the copyright in July, can we complain then? :: giggle::

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLEH

Apparently there are still some readers who need to un-bunch their undies and just learn to laugh. :-)

Scott, fantastic work as always! I love the running gag, and look forward to next years' installment of the "OH-DEAR-GOD-THE-COPYRIGHT-DATE-HASN'T-CHANGED-YET" strip!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I'm pretty sure I never once noticed the copyright until I saw this comic last year. Anyway, happy Christmas and merry New Year!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrip Hazard

Just joining the chorus to say thanks for another 12 months of insane distraction. By the way, I loved Missy's explanation on how these comics are created - much more difficult than I imagined.

Also, thanks for the occasional nod to the Northwest roots for both of you. Make sure you DVR the upcoming season of Portlandia: HIGH-larious.

Merry Christmas to you, Missy and the cats.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaymz

So, are you going to add another "Again" each time you run this comic? Looking forward to seeing this again next year.
Love how long the comments section is getting on a post which is basically asking people not to fuss over a legal notation ;D

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Best wishes for you and your family in the new year Mr. Meyer. May this year be a productive happy one. Thank you for providing this website and the comics.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterisiah

Now we get to bet on when the first 2012 copyright will appear -- and what's more, next year we can also bet on when this Basic Instruction will reappear! That is way cool! Gentlemen, place your bets ...

-Cougar :{)

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCougar Allen

Some reruns are posted just to get some time off.
This one is also posted because the issue will re-run, and the answer stays the same.
Although this comic is a work of fiction, the copywright date is not part of the fiction.
Because of the potential for plagiarism (copy somebody else's work, pre-date the copywright, claim "I wrote it first - He copied Me!"), faking a copywirght date is a serious crime. YES, I know this would be post-dating, not pre-dating, but that doesn't change the law - faking a copywirght is illegal, no matter how you fake it.
ALSO, indulging people who get upset because they mistake the copywright date for the printing or posting date just encourages them.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDee

I don't perceive this as redrawn or redone, or even a re-run. It's a new work inspired by a previous work. Therefore, a range of dates wouldn't make sense. So, it's kind of like a sequel, as indicated in the title with "…Again".

Must I point out by example the day-to-day life in the movie "Groundhog Day"? As similar as each happens to be based merely on the world around the main character, the main character himself is different everyday which makes each day different. Otherwise, he wouldn't have learned anything.

Seriously, if you guys saw someone's younger sibling then you'd probably scream at the parents "RE-RUN!" just because it similar to an older sibling. Or maybe because it looked like the parents. Differences matter, except maybe for the future population from the movie "Idiocracy".

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThom

I love your humor style. If any number of other strips ran something similar to this I'm sure it would come off as a somewhat insulting "don't bother me!" strip. But the subtle jabs at yourself and the situation make it seem like just another one of your strips rather than a (repeated) PSA.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFirst Name

I agree, this strip needs to be a tradition! Maybe you should just go ahead and make the comic now so it will be all ready for next year. ;)

Thanks for the year of Instructions, Scott. Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterjoeHope

People often show their copyrights using Roman Numerals, so it seems like you could write your copyright in some obscure way and nobody could complain! What is your copyright date on the Aztec calendar?

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTommy

Scott, you're right that a work is copyrighted as soon as it is finished ("fixed in a tangible medium of expression," in legal-speak), but that's not the date that goes in the copyright notice. The copyright notice requires the year of first publication of the work. 17 U.S.C. 401(b)(2). "Publication" means "distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending." It also includes "offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication." 17 U.S.C. 101. Of course, that doesn't change the answer -- you're what we call "right for the wrong reasons" on this one.

Regardless of copyright date, keep up the good work, and happy holidays.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott

The fact that this is near identical to last years just makes it that much more hilarious in my books! Please please please make it an annual thing! :)

Merry Christmas Scott, thanks for all the laughs :)

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTemily

This webcomic could really use a mobile app. Just food for thought.

Note from Scott: Thanks for asking about mobile apps! If you look over on the store page, you'll find Basic Instructions apps for both Android and iPhone.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCody


Thanks for the tip-off! My holiday will now be spent trawling through Missy's blog. The kids will have to cook their own Christmas dinner and their Dad will have to walk the Staffweiler (a massively powerful, and fortunately very sweet-natured staffie x rottie, bought under the label of "boxer" - yep, they saw us coming). It will do 'em good to learn how to put the oven on/get dragged horizontally around around the park.

Now, you must excuse me - I have a cup of tea, a packet of Hob-Nobs, a drooly muscular dog crushing my legs and the Missy archives to attend to . . .

December 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy

You forgot the key point of any PSA: Make sure your wife isn't in the room when you offer it.

December 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermisterfweem

@second comment: its meant to be that way, idiot. speak for yourself.

December 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlol

"Calm down"


Haha, that was fuckin' money!

December 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurtis

Behind every great man is a woman mocking him and rolling her eyes.

December 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

I gather to bask in the glory of the Smoking Jacket!

And the writing in the extreme bottom-left. Seriously, "© 2011: Scott Meyer." That is Shakespearean in elegance and simplicity.

December 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterByron Black

I hadn't noticed the copyright dates before. I will watch for them!

December 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersomebody

I find the fact that people still complain to you in the comments about the date on the comics in January that they haven't even seen yet funnier than the actual comic. It is a funny comic, though. I think it'd be even funnier if you'd changed it a bit, but I guess if you're doing it to take a break, then that's fine :). Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSammy

Seriously, I can't stop laughing at this one.

Thanks Scott! Many, many thanks!

December 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Next year maybe you can afford to hire Portia de Rossi to make this announcement?

December 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBasicLaugh

I love this ... again

December 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngel

So you got a day off... in November? I'm confused. ;-)

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie


I love all the conflict stirred up. It shows that you are having an impact!

Have a great holiday season, Scott and I hope 2012 treats you really well.

I just got your 3rd book. LOVING IT!!

LOVE the RJ-17 form with it! :D

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAC

I can hardly wait for the new year so I can tell you that you have utterly failed to update the year! I probably wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't asked us to be on the lookout for it and let you know if you forget to change to the new year, so thanks for the reminder!

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOrision
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