How to Copyright a Book

    You’ve just written a book—congratulations! Now, before running off to the publisher, it might be a good idea to stop and think through your rights and how to protect them.

    What is a copyright?

    A copyright is the type of intellectual property protection given to works of art, literature, video, graphic design—expressions of an idea that have “original authorship” and have been fixed in a tangible medium.

    Or, in English: something brand new (or enough of an innovation on something else to make it more than just a copy) that also exists: it has been drawn, recorded, typed, or otherwise set down; it can’t be just an idea in someone’s head

    This protection is federally granted, and it’s automatic.

    What rights does an author have?

    Copyrighting a book? Here's how.

    Copyrighting a book? Here’s how.

    You quite literally have “rights” to your “copy,” rights that are exclusive to you (and those you authorize to exercise your rights). These exclusive rights include:

    • the right to display or perform your work
    • the right to make copies
    • the right to distribute your work
    • the right to any derivative works, or offshoots (like sequels or movie adaptations)

    Except in certain cases, such as fair use, you are the only person in the world that can do anything you want with your own material.

    How do I register my book for a copyright?

    You’ll need to provide certain information about your work, including:

    • The author’s name
    • The owner’s name (in case the author is not the owner)
    • The title of the work
    • The work itself
    • The year it was completed
    • The date and country of publication, if it has been published
    • Optional public contact information

    You can copyright your book either directly through the US Copyright Office, or you can let Click&Copyright do the work for you. Our copyrighting services start at $69 and include federal filing fees (unlike some of our competitors).

    Do I have to register a copyright to be protected?

    No, you don’t. Copyright exists from the moment you wrote the words in your book. But there are a few very good reasons to register your copyright with the US Copyright Office, including:

    • You cannot file a lawsuit for copyright infringement unless you have an official registration
    • If you do not register until after the infringement has taken place, you can only win damages (you’ll have to pay your own legal fees)
    • Official registration creates a public record of your work, which can help others get into contact with you about licensing opportunities
    • Rush filings, which you might need if a lawsuit is pending, cost over $700
    It’s just a good idea to register your copyright before any legal entanglements.

    Don’t delay. Register your copyright today.

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