One of the things many artists are concerned with is making sure no one else makes money off their work besides them. These are the people who put giant watermarks on their photos, disable right-clicking on their websites, put up pay-walls on their newspapers, make “all rights reserved” a mantra, and think the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects publishers.
Some of these artists become so concerned with protecting their copyrights that they endeavor to single-handedly control their outflow of information. These are the people who constantly search Google for their name and trademarks and complain if anyone else is using them, even if their work is being republished for free.
In truth, it’s much more likely that 100 years from now, all you creations will be completely forgotten rather than preserved. It’s much better to disseminate your paintings, or photography, or compositions as widely as possible and get them into as many hands as possible and onto as many computer systems as possible to prevent their dissolution and perpetuate their existence.
Furthermore, having your work seen by one person it profoundly and positively influences is better than having it seen by a million people who don’t take more than passing notice of it. To increase your chances of having your work seen and used by as many growth-oriented people as possible (as opposed to people who just want to use your work for negative self-interest, i.e. claim it as their own or steal it), you should distribute your work along as many channels and through as many mediums as reasonably possible. Obviously, it’s not a good idea to spend all your money or time on this, and you should try to make money on your work to support your life, but there is a balance between being over-protective and under-protective that can be reached through moderation.
When someone steals your work and makes money off it, it’s easy to hunt them down and punish them, but I would just post a notice on my blog about it and move on, continuing to create new and better work. Of course, it would only be worth posting such a notice if the thievery was at a higher profile than my current operations.
A great way to pass down your work to the next generation is to make a hard-cover book of it, and then maybe print 50,000 copies and sell them or otherwise distribute them. People tend to value books far more than magazines, and hard-cover books far more than paperbacks. Even if the material in the book is incoherent, and sometimes, especially if the material in the book is incoherent, it will be retained as some sort of collector’s item. On the flip-side, textbooks tend to be worth $200 until the next edition is released, and then $0.02 from that point on.
Another good way to pass down your work is to get some good CD-Rs or DVD-Rs or DVD+Rs from Japan, a good CD/DVD burner, and then burn 737MB or 4.7GB of data to said disc, put it in a jewel case, label it with a black Sharpie, and then hide it in a friend or family member’s house. Also, please note that the 700MB that fit on data CDs is actually 703MiB, and in decimal megabytes (10^6) instead of binary megabytes (2^20) that is 737MB, but the 4.7 gigabytes on data DVDs are decimal gigabytes (10^9) and said discs hold about 4.38GiB. Also note that all optical discs are recorded in a spiral track from the inside out, as opposed to vinyl records which are recorded from the outside in, so you should be more wary of data recorded near the outside edge of the disc because it may be rendered unreadable by people who don’t handle discs by the edges but instead grip them like a credit card.
Similarly, perfect-bound books tend to be vulnerable to the glue in the binding being eaten by cockroaches and then large clumps of pages falling out, so spiral bounding may be a better option. However, none of this is an option if you are a believer in the occult (hidden knowledge), because then you believe the knowledge itself has value and should be hidden from other people, whereas in truth knowledge is not intrinsically valuable but the thought processes that lead to knowledge are intrinsically valuable, and those are distinct to you and evolve over the span of your life depending on whether you get bogged down in details or attack life at a higher level.
Belief in the occult leads you down the closed-source distribution model, with Draconian penalties for reverse-engineering, because it leads you down the path of fear and mistrust of other humans’ motives. Absence of belief in the occult leads you down the open-source distribution model, with reverse-engineering not even being required, because it leads you down the path of love and trust of other humans’ motives. Granted, there may be a small percentage of sociopaths who have no conscience and act accordingly, but they must be dismissed as an acceptable liability.
Copyright is a tool that gives you the exclusive right to generate copies of your work and forbids other people from doing the same, but is that what you want? Personally, I would prefer to out-source the copying of my work to other people, to free up more time for me to create more work.