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on publishing > Copyright on Ebooks?

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message 1: by Christoffer (new)

Christoffer Solheim (solheim) I'm an amateur writer and from what I gather, getting backed by an actual publishing company is one of the hardest things you can do. While I do not fear rejection, because what's the worst that can happen? I go back to where I was previously. Big deal.

So I've decided that when I do finish my novel I've been slowly plotting and writing some time next year, I plan on going the self-publication route. Preferably by selling it independently as an e-book.

But what if someone steals my work? Lets assume for the sake of argument that I write a novel that is the best novel you've ever read. I release it as an e-book, someone finds my gem and submits it to a publishing company under their name, and now they're making bank off my work.

How do I acquire a copyright on my e-book to prevent potential thieves from making a fortune off my work?

Don't get me wrong, I do not believe I am good enough to be a best-seller anytime soon, or ever for that matter, but I'd rather not have someone steal my work regardless of how good or bad it is.


message 2: by Mark (last edited Dec 22, 2010 02:28PM) (new)

Mark Johansen | 24 comments There's a common misconception that you have to "apply" for a copyright. This is not true. Everything you write is automatically copyrighted the instant you write it. So you do not have to worry about somehow "acquiring" a copyright on your ebook. If you wrote it, you own a copyright on it.

It is a very good idea to REGISTER your copyright with the U.S. Copyright office. (I'm assuming you live in the U.S. If you live in some other country, you would have to register with your country's copyright office or equivalent. Either way, there's a big international treaty on copyright law, so odds are its the same where you live.) If someone did steal your work, your registration could then be used as evidence in court that you really did write it. Without a registration, you would have to prove that you really did write it and he stole it and not the other way around.

Registration is not difficult. You fill out a form on a web page. For a printed book you have to mail in two copies. As I understand it, for an ebook you just upload the ebook with the registration form. (But I've never written an ebook, so I've never done this. I did once register the copyright on a web site, but that was years ago and at the time you had to mail in a CD, there was no way to upload.)

The US copyright office is "www.copyright.gov". If you do the web form it costs $39 to register. If you mail in a paper form I think its $49. That's for a book. Fees are somewhat higher for music and video and other things.


message 3: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 35 comments If you wish to win a lawsuit, it is best to have formal, registered copyright.

Apply to the Library Of Congress. You can apply and submit online, and I think it will cost you around $40 so it is well worth it.

You also need an ISBN. One used to have to buy a batch of 10 at a time, but now you can purchase them individually.

I'm not sure of the cost, but it should be well under $100 for one.

Look up Bowker.com

Your copyright is worth protecting.


message 4: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Gibson (Arthur_Gibson) | 2 comments Registering a copyright is definately the way to go. But if you are putting something out there first and are worried someone will steal it while you go through the registration process, then go to the post office and send yourself a paper copy of your work by registered post. It officially dates it. Do not open it when you get it. If a claim ever goes to court you can prove that on that date you had a copy of it. It works when you have that registered copy BEFORE the material gets online.


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