Let's Talk Copyright

Many people have little knowledge about copyright. Or, worse, they have misinformation about this important subject.

I talked to an old friend about the issue because he wrote a book and published it himself with one of the DIY publishers. He sold so many copies that he wrote a second book. He sent me an essay from it, and I thought it was good and would be a compelling read for my visitors so I asked him if I could publish it.

Of course, I told him I'd make sure to post a copyright notice with the material. He said not to do that because he hadn't copyrighted it yet. Then I spent several minutes writing him and explaining to him what copyright meant and how it was different from registering a copyright.

Naturally, I decided this would be something good to present on the blog because many of you are professional writers who haven't learned the business yet and many of you are amateur writers who also don't know the business dynamics of being a writer. Perhaps this will help.

From The Beginning

Copyright is yours from the get-go. When you create a work, you immediately own the copyright to that work. You don't have to do anything else in order to make this happen. You don't even have to slap that little circled C on the work, but you can if you want to. I do most of the time because it's kind of a sense of accomplishment.

Copyright Vs. Copyright Registration

Once you have created a work and therefore own the rights, it's a good business decision to register your creative work with the Copyright Office. Go online, get the form, fill it out, and submit your fee, and your Copyright will be registered.

This is important should you ever have to sue someone for infringing your copyright because you can't sue unless you've registered the work. Prior registration also allows you to collect attorney fees and statutory damages.

Meaning Of Copyright

Copyright is your protection and authorization to the exclusive use of all rights in the work. You can assign those rights to others. No one can display your work, publish it, copy it, or create anything from it (called a derivative work) without your permission. If they do, that's called Infringement, and you can seek legal redress.

Life Of Copyright

In the U. S., copyright is for the life of the author plus seventy years if the copyright is registered under your real name. If it is registered under a pseudonym, copyright is for 95 years after publication, up to 120 years from when they’re created, whichever is shorter. After copyright expires, a work passes into public domain.

Takeaway Truth

Copyright is a complex issue. Familiarize yourself with the basic tenets and make a point to learn about the subject in more detail. You can visit the U. S. Copyright website for more information.

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