Copyright laws are complex. If you want to copyright what you are writing, use this page as a helpful resource for all things copyright!
You will need the following information and forms before you send your book to the printer! Remember to allow plenty of time to receive and send back the required forms. Ideally, you will want to plan to begin this process while you are writing the book, otherwise there could be a gigantic time lag.
To get answers to specific questions about copyright, call the Copyright Public Information Office at: 202 707-9100 (Forms Hotline). Allow 2 to 3 weeks for delivery of forms.
Library of Congress
Register of Copyrights
101 Independence Avenue S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000
The best idea would be to download the forms from http://www.copyright.gov/ — the site also includes information on filling out the forms, general copyright information and links to other websites related to copyright issues.
Larry’s NOTE: I am suggesting that you send for the copyright forms before you need them. Actual registered copyright can only be obtained after the book has been published. Complete instructions come with the form. Information obtained from the other contacts below will need to be published in your book.
Click here to read an excellent article on copyright infringement on the Web.
Here are some important things to know about copyright law, presented in “Writer’s Market 2000:”
Copyright protects your writing, unequivocally recognizes you (its creator) as its owner, and grants you all the rights, benefits and privileges that come with ownership. The moment you finish a piece of writing — whether it is a short story, article, novel or poem — the law recognizes that only you can decide how it is to be used.
Copyright law gives you the right to make and distribute copies of your written works, the right to prepare derivative works (dramatizations, translations, musical arrangements, etc. — any work based on the original) and the right to perform or publicly display your work. With very few exceptions, anything you write today will enjoy copyright protection for your lifetime plus 70 years. Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. Titles, ideas and facts can NOT be copyrighted.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that copyright is something they have to send away for, and that their writing is not properly protected until they have “received” their copyright from the government. The fact is, you don’t have to register your work with the Copyright Office in order for your work to be copyrighted; any piece of writing is copyrighted the moment it is put to paper.
RECOMMENDED: Registration of your work does, however, offer some additional protection (specifically, the possibility of recovering punitive damages in an infringement suit) as well as legal proof of the date of copyright.
Registration is a matter of filling out an application form (for writers, that’s generally Form TX) and sending the completed form, a nonreturnable copy of the work in question and a check for fee to the address above.
Larry’s NOTE: If you choose not to register your book with the copyright office, I recommend that you send a copy of your book or manuscript to yourself by registered mail and let it remain unopened in your file. This will add to your credibility as to when the work was completed in the event you are ever involved in an infringement suit.
More Copyright Info: The Copyright Website
Larry’s Note: I received a note from Ms. Brooke Pierce, a teacher, who often uses this page in her business classes. One of her students, Matty, found another interesting site that is a great addition to this page. It’s called, “The Copyright Information Guide.” Thanks, Matty.
Larry’s NOTE: I received a note from Ms. Kristen McNeill, a teacher, who often uses this page in her classes. One of her students, Ben, found another interesting site that is a great addition to this page. It’s called, “Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights.” Thanks, Ben.
10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained ~ Brad Templeton answers common myths about copyright seen on the Internet. This article also covers issues related to copyright and USENET/Internet publication.
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the U.S. ~ Great info about Copyright vs. Public Domain. A downloadable PDF Version is available.
ChillingEffects.org – Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities. Lawyers from the law schools at Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of San Francisco and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have collaborated on establishing a clearing house for copyright law.
One last thought: If you will be adding quotes to your book or reprinting articles on your Website or anywhere, always assume that any pre-existing work you’d like to use is copyrighted work and that it requires permission from the copyright owner to use or copy. More info about “fair use” here!
BONUS Articles: 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained
Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright
Copyright infringement Defined
Common Workplace Activities Can Cause Copyright Problems
So You’re Writing a Book, Eh? ~ More info authors should know about ISBN numbers, Library of Congress Numbers, etc.
5 Seriously Dumb Myths About Copyright the Media Should Stop Repeating
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com
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