Do you need to copyright your book? Once you’ve written your book, a copyright is essential. Copyrighting is a key legal step you must always take before you print your work. Here some tips to copyright your book easily, fast, and free.
What Is a Book Copyright?
A book copyright means you are the owner of the book and all its contents. If you want full legal protection, you must register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office. If you skip copyrighting, your book could miss out on important legal protections.
Is It Necessary to Copyright Your Book?
Strictly speaking, a book is considered copyright protected the moment you write it. Even if you don’t register it at the copyright office, the copyright is considered automatically effective once you write the book and put your name on it.
This automatic status is useful for people who want to print e-books they sell or give away from websites. If you’ve written this type of book, you may not need a registered copyright because it’s clear that you’re the one writing, publishing, and distributing the book.
If you want to publish a print book or on a self-publishing platform, however, you don’t really have a choice. You must register the copyright officially. Sending your book out into the world exposes it to higher risk of being copied or used without attribution.
Reasons to Copyright Your Book
Counting on an automatic copyright isn’t enough. To officially copyright your book has many benefits.
Registering a copyright does not take long, and it is free to do online. You may not think anyone intends to copy your work, but you’d be surprised. It’s smart to make sure you don’t leave any room for legal doubt when it comes to the use of your work. Here are some good reasons to copyright your book.
It protects your book. When you copyright your book, it ensures that nobody can reproduce all or part of it without your permission and without giving you proper credit.
It’s a legal measure. If someone uses your work without your authorization, you can file a lawsuit against them for copyright infringement. You can only do this is you have a legally registered copyright.
Copyrighting is proof the work is yours. A copyright is your legal proof that you own the book, characters, dialogue, and other material in it. If someone else attempts to produce a work with those materials, you can make them stop.
You can get compensation. When you legally copyright your book, you must be compensated for any unauthorized use of your book.
It gives your book professionalism. All professional writers and publishing companies use registered copyrights. Copyrighting shows you take your work seriously.
When you copyright your book, it gives you peace of mind. You’ll know you’ve covered all your bases.
You’ll meet the mandatory deposit requirement. Every writer of a book published in the U.S. must send a copy of the book to the U.S. Copyright Office for use by the Library of Congress. The deadline to do this is three months after publication. If you officially register to copyright your book, you can take care of this at the same time.
Create Your Book Copyright Page
When you copyright your book, the first step is to create a copyright page. This will appear right after the title page and before the table of contents, if you have one.
The elements of the copyright page are the following.
Name of the person or organization that owns the work. This is usually the author, publishing house, or author’s estate.
Ordering information for those who want to buy the book. This could be a website address of the author or publisher.
Reservation of rights. Your book should have a statement saying, for instance, “This book and its contents are the copyright of Sam Templeton. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of this book is prohibited other than the following: You may quote from the book for purposes of a review or other article. You may not, without express written permission, distribute or use the contents.”
Book editions: If your book was printed in earlier editions, list the dates here. If it’s a first edition, just write, “First edition” and the publication year.
Your book’s ISBN number.
Your author website address or other address where readers can learn more about you. If your book is commercially published, the publisher’s website goes here.
Credits: Name the designer of the book’s cover here. If there is a photograph on the cover, give the photographer’s name.
Disclaimer: A book disclaimer is a simple statement that the book is work of fiction. Here is a typical disclaimer: “This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.”
More disclaimers: If you’ve published a book that involves real people or events, you can alter the statement to reflect that, for instance, “Some of the historical events depicted in this novel are real.” If you have published a nonfiction book, there are different rules.
For instance, in a self-help book, you might write, “The information in this book is meant to supplement information provided by your physician and is not intended as medical advice,” or, “This book is based on primary research and in-person interviews, but some conversations have been shortened or recreated for clarity.” Use your best judgment to craft a disclaimer that keeps you legally in the clear.
How to Copyright Your Book with the Copyright Office
You’ve decided to copyright your book with the U.S. Copyright Office. Aside from literary works, which includes fiction, nonfiction, articles, periodicals, and poetry, you can also register performing arts, visual arts, digital content, motion pictures, and photographs.
The U.S. government has made it easy to copyright your book online through the Copyright Office website.
Here, you will find a video that gives you step-by-step instructions on completing the copyright application.
You can register up to 10 titles at a time, but you must choose the setting for a new application for a “Group of Unpublished Works.”
If you’re only copyrighting one work, you must use the “Standard Application.”
To copyright your book, follow these steps:
State what type of work it is.
Supply a title for each work you’re registering. The title must appear exactly as it does on your published book.
Once you’ve entered the basic information, click save. If you have more works to register, click the “New” button to enter a new title. Otherwise, click the “Continue” button.
Enter the year of creation, which means the year of publication for a book.
On the author/claimant page, type your name as it appears on the book.
Enter your address, citizenship information, and birth year.
Complete the “Limitation of Claim” screen.
Upload the work. After you complete the application, you must upload one copy or recording of your work. Each work must be submitted in an electronic format. The title on the electronic format should match the title of your book.
Special Notes for Copywriting Pseudonyms
Are you writing your book under a different name? You must register the copyright under your pseudonym unless you want to reveal who the real author is.
If you check the “pseudonym” box and you don’t want to reveal your actual identity, don’t put your real name anywhere in the application. Once you have put your real name in the certification, it becomes part of the legal public record and can’t be changed.
If you want to include both the pseudonym and your real name, follow these steps:
Provide your real name in the “First Name/Last Name” fields.
Leave the pseudonym box unchecked.
Provide your pseudonym in the “Note to Copyright Office” box on the certification screen. For instance, “Author’s pseudonym Harry Hippo appears on the copies of these works.”
Get That Copyright
Getting a copyright doesn’t take long, and you can do it from your own computer. It’s worth taking a little time to fully protect your book. If you need help with any part of the book printing process, contact Publishing Xpress today.