Writing Contract

Protecting your own copyrights as a publisher

Need copyright protection for your book? Authors & publishers, learn how to safeguard your work & fight copycats!

Many authors, especially those considering self-publication, may wonder whether or not they need to secure a copyright for their work The validity of copyright laws is frequently contested. The answer can be found in the standard security it gives for your innovative work. Even if your work has been theoretically protected since its inception, you still need to formally register your copyright with the appropriate authorities. Legal safeguards like this gives you dual protection by strengthening your ownership rights and discouraging would-be copycats. 

Basic understanding of Copyright 

As you pour your thoughts and ideas onto paper it becomes your creation, it becomes crucial to understand the concept of copyright a formal statement that essentially proclaims, “This is mine.” In the literary world, copyright acts as a gatekeeper, preventing others from taking credit for your work. These rules spell out the rights and make it illegal for anyone else to use, share, or perform your work without your permission. Copyright law  protects you from stealing your intellectual property and includes more than just physical copies of your book. It also includes public acts of your work. It is essential to keep in mind, though, that copyright rights only work in your own country. Each place has its rules, meaning your work might be safe in your home country but not elsewhere.

Ownership of Copyright:

Copyright typically belongs to the person who created the work in the first place. One thing that does change, though, is who owns the copyright. This can depend on the type of work that was created or how it was made, like by an employee as part of their job. It can be hard to figure out who owns the copyright to a work.People who own copyright may also be bound by a legal agreement, like a study, funding, or publishing agreement. Determining who owns copyright in a work can be complex espically in employee-employer relationship. 

Works Done for Hire

By definition, the person who creates the work owns it. This isn't always followed, though, when a work is created as a "work made for hire." A work made for hire is one that an author writes as part of their job, like when they work as a writer for a creative company.However, a work made for hire can also be defined by a written agreement between the author and the person who hired them to create a work that falls under a certain category of copyright law (like a translation). In the case of a "work made for hire," the rights to the finished product belong to the client who commissioned the work rather than the writer.

Registration of Copyright:

Copyright protection starts as soon as the work is created, but filing your Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office gives you added benefits and legal advantages. It gives you access to federal courts and lets you seek statutory damages and attorney's fees. It is assumed that a filed copyright is valid, which makes it easier to prove in court. The process also raises the commercial value of your work by giving you legitimate proof that you own it and making it easier to negotiate with publishers or other stakeholders.

Here is a summary of the steps you need to take to register your Copyright in the United States

Find Out If You Are Eligible:

According to Section 102 of the U.S. Copyright Act, ensure your work aligns with the eligibility criteria stipulated by copyright law.

Fill out the application form:

You can obtain the application form from the United States Copyright Office (USCO) page. The Form TX for literary works registers academic work such as books. 

Gather the relevant material:

Get the things you need to send in, like copies of the work you want to register. You can sign up online at the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) or send a paper application. Most of the time, signing up online is faster and cheaper.

Pay the fee to file:

The fee differs for each type of work and each way of registering. The most up-to-date fee plan can be found on the USCO website. If you're applying by mail, send the minimum number of copies of your work and your application. If you sign up online, you can send digital copies.

Get the Certificate:

You will get a certificate of registration once your registration is accepted. This certificate holds as legal proof of ownership of your work. 

Notice of Copyright:

Even though it's not required, putting a copyright note in your self-published book is a good idea. This usually has the © sign, the year it was first published, and the name of the person who owns the Copyright.

Remedies Available 

In the United States, publishers can use various legal mechanisms to combat piracy. Publishers can demand that infringing parties cease unauthorized use by sending cease and desist letters. Discussions of a settlement or compromise, such as a license agreement or monetary payment, may follow. The DMCA makes eliminating illegal content on the internet easier by allowing takedown requests. Injunctions issued by the courts can halt continued violations. Legal remedies, including statutory damages and attorney's costs, are available through copyright registration. Two possible alternatives are actual damages, which measure the monetary loss, and the infringer's profits. In cases of deliberate violation, criminal prosecution may be pursued, which carries the possibility of fines and even imprisonment. To further thwart the importation of pirated materials, publishers may also contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Legal assistance is crucial to manage these remedies efficiently, considering the individual circumstances of each violation. Most of the time, copyright cases are settled in federal court. You can also go to the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), a free forum in the Copyright Office for copyright claims with damages of less than $30,000. As an option to federal court, it is meant to be less expensive and easier to use. You also need to have registered your rights to use the CCB. 


For what period is copyright protection in effect?

Copyright protection period varies, but generally, it lasts for the author's life plus 70 years. The time frame varies depending on whether the work was done for hire or is anonymous/pseudonymous.

Could you protect the entire website or blog with Copyright?

The creative material on your website or blog is protected by Copyright, but the design and functionality are not. To increase legal protection, it is recommended to register crucial content elements.

Can I register a copyright for a pen name?

Names, titles, and brief words are not protected by Copyright. If your pen name is used to identify and distinguish your goods or services in commerce, you may want to register it as a trademark.

Yoshita Gwalani

I am distinguished and licensed attorney renowned for expertise in Intellectual Property (IP) law, holding a coveted master's degree, with a specialized focus on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), data privacy, and technology law, I am a dedicated legal professional committed to providing invaluable counsel to start-ups and clients alike. My formidable forte is legal research and writing, offering clients comprehensive and strategic solutions in the ever-evolving landscape of intellectual property and technology legal matters.

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