What is your book copyright question? What exactly is a copyright? How do I get international copyright protection? When should I file a copyright, and how much does it cost? These are the most commonly asked questions that come up when it comes to legally protecting your work.
If you have burning copyright questions or are confused about the concept and don’t even know what to ask, this article will help you.
Copyright can be a confusing subject. So in this post, we’ll answer the most common and important questions asked by authors regarding copyright ownership.
Let’s get started.
We answer 5 of the most important copyright questions asked by authors
#1 – Why do authors need copyright protection?
A copyright is a creator’s legal right to print, publish, film, record, or even perform literary, musical, or artistic work.
It also gives the creator/owner the right to authorize others to use their work. This can be via sale, license, or some other limited use encompassing an area, a language, or a purpose.
While an idea or a concept in itself cannot be copyrighted, the expression of an idea in some tangible form is eligible for copyright protection.
This video on copyright myths covers this along with other copyright questions.
When you take the material from your mind and put it on paper, you’re putting an idea into a physical form. In this case, you are automatically eligible for copyright protection.
Now, you might be wondering, “If I am eligible for an automatic copyright, why do I need to file for it anyway?”
Well, when you register your copyright in the United States, you establish a public record of your ownership. This allows you to have more legal rights and capabilities should you need to defend your copyright.
If you operate in the US, registering with the US Copyright Office gives you more protection and the ability to claim extra damages and legal costs in the case of a lawsuit.
#2 How expensive is it to copyright a book?
As long as you’re filing for your book as a single author, it’s pretty straightforward and affordable. You don’t need to hire an attorney to file for a copyright.
You can head to copyright.gov to explore your specific situation. But essentially, if you file before your book is published, you will have to pay $45. If you’re filing after publication, it will be a more expensive paper filing, costing you $125. For this reason, it’s better to file electronically.
Filing for copyright before your book is published also makes you eligible for pre-registration.
To submit your work for pre-registration, you must meet these three conditions:
#1 The work must be unpublished.
#2 The work must be in the process of being prepared for commercial distribution in either physical or digital format.
#3 The work must be a type of work determined by the register to have had a history of infringement prior to authorized commercial distribution.
Regardless, if you ever need to defend your copyright, you will be glad you invested in this.
If you’re wondering what common situations arise that need copyright defense, watch this video on Amazon Scams and Amazon Account Termination. You can see how the situation can arise rather easily where you may need to prove your copyright!
#3 If I register for copyright protection, can people still use my book without permission?
Copyright protection means others cannot plagiarize or use your words or the material in your book without your permission. If it does happen, you have the ability to seek remedies and damages.
However, the above legal right does not apply in the case of fair use.
Fair use permits anyone to use excerpts from a copyrighted material—word for word—without permission from the copyright holder. As long as the use is for the purposes of critique, teaching, research, parody or satire, or reporting news, it’s fair use. This is a video to help explain Fair Use more:
This means you can’t entirely protect your work from being used by others. But hey, if someone’s quoting you and your work, isn’t that a good thing?
#4 How do I get international copyright protection?
Unfortunately, international copyright protection does not exist. If you want copyright protection in the US, you need to file in the US. Protection against unauthorized use of intellectual property in a specific country depends on that country’s particular laws.
While a lot of foreign nations have simple copyright laws, that’s not the case in the US.
Most countries have adopted the Berne Convention (including the US). It’s an agreement where copyright must be automatic for a creator.
However, the US doesn’t seem to follow the Berne Convention strictly according to its rules. Even after the US joined, they continued to make statutory damages and attorney’s fees only available for registered works.
#5 How do I file for copyright protection in the US?
You can register a copyright claim with the US Copyright Office through its website.
Here’s the process from start to finish:
- Go to copyright.gov/registration.
- Login if you already have an account or register for a new count.
- On the left side, under Register a Work, click Standard Application.
- Click Start Registration at the top.
- Follow the registration process for a new claim for a literary work.
- Pay the registration filing fee.
- Submit a deposit copy of your work electronically or by mail.
Note: You can upload an electronic copy of your copyrighted work if one or more of these conditions is met:
#1 The work is unpublished.
#2 The work has only been published in electronic format.
#3 You are using the group registration option for unpublished work.
Now that you’ve registered for a copyright claim, you need to include a copyright notice in your book.
The copyright notice has three required elements:
#1 The year of first publication.
#2 The copyright symbol.
#3 The author’s name or pen name, or the publishing company that holds the right to the book.
If you want some thoughts on what you should put on your copyright page, this video can help you:
I always do my best to answer questions about book copyrights. But remember, I’m not a lawyer, so these are not replacements for legal advice.
Get a copyright or trademark attorney if you need help with something more complex than just getting your book registered.
Also, if you want video tutorials on copyrighting your book, the copyright.gov website has step-by-step instructions to walk you through it. The website is not super pretty and can be a little intimidating. But if you follow the steps and the instructions, you can register for copyright yourself.
Now, you don’t have to write, register, self-publish, and market your book on your own. Schedule a call with Book Launchers to get a team of experienced professionals to help you at every stage of your author’s journey.