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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Copyright Protection

Greetings and welcome to Self-Publishing Central.

Today's topic is copyrighting your work. How to do it. How to maintain it. Registering your copyright.

DISCLAIMER: The following post is not be be considered legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, please contact an attorney for answers or clarification.


A lot of people ask me questions about copyrights. What are they? How do I get one? When are they needed?

I've got some answers for self- and indie-pubbed authors in this post. If you're interested, please follow along.

How do I copyright my work?

This is the easy one. According to the United States Code, Section 102(a), "Copyright protection subsists . . . in original works of authorship." This means that, as soon as you create and publish your work, it becomes copyrighted. To say it another way, the creator of the work automatically owns the copyright on that work.

Under the old system of copyright law, you could lose your copyright protection by publishing your work without a copyright statement on it. A copyright statement is something like: "Copyright 2011 by John L. Betcher." You can use the copyright symbol shown above in place of the word "Copyright." The date is the date you first published your work. The name is the name of the owner of the copyright (initially, the author).

Under the new law, it appears that leaving off the copyright statement may not cost you your copyrights. But since it is so easy, I would use a copyright statement every time I publish the work, nevertheless.

Where do I put the copyright statement?

In books, there is a recognized format for where to put your copyright. It is included with other publication data in the front matter of the book. You can follow the preceding link for details. Or you can look in any published book for a template. If you put the copyright statement somewhere else, it should still protect your work. But the front matter is where, by tradition, it belongs.

EVERY TIME you publish your work, you should include a copyright statement!

Do I need to register my copyright?

It is possible to register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office at any time after publication. There are some benefits to registration. You can check this out yourself to see if the benefits outweigh the costs for you. I do not, as a rule, register my copyrights. That doesn't mean you might not benefit from registration.

Is it really that simple?


If you read this blog post, and check out the links for supplementary information, you probably know everything you need to know about copyrights.

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by.




  1. Oh, it is so simple and registering it is even more so since you just upload the document. Simple as that.

  2. Thanks for the comment, LM. Much appreciated.



  3. Yes, you can upload your copy electronically to the copyright office--I think it's $ 30.00, but please double-check. It may help should there ever be a legal challenge. So, if somebody tries to steal and/or plagiarize your novel, you'd have some additional proof. Wouldn't that be exciting!? It would make you an instant bestseller. LOL.
    Thanks for the post, John!

  4. Hi Christa,

    I did check the cost of uploading your book to register your copyright and it is currently $35.00. So, not a lot of money.

    And would be very interesting, and flattering, for someone to try to steal your novel. :)

    Thanks for stopping in.