Once I finished my first manuscript, friends and relatives wanted me to copyright it. I decided to research the pros and cons first. Now that I am getting my manuscript ready, I am sharing with you all the secret facts I've found. (Whew! A lot of info)
The US Copyright Office states that once your creation (whatever it is) is in tangible form, it is copyrighted. The problem comes in with legal issues. This is particularly important when another creator takes you to court for stealing their work.
What is protected by copyright? It is better to ask what isn't protected: idea/system/method/device/name/title.
If you think your title of your book should be protected - it can't be. The title is not covered under copyright.
You still want to copyright it the 'correct' way to be safe. No problem. Just some typical govt steps are required.
Keep in Mind - Keep in mind if you are submitting to a reputable agent/publishing company, you really don't need to copyright it, except for your own piece of mind.
What a hassle. What did you expect? You're dealing with the govt. Still sure you want to register it at the US Copyright Office? To make it simple, you can have a law firm do the work for you. Legalzoom.com advertises their services. You just need to fill out an online form and pay them $114 plus the $35 copyright registration fee. Too high? Well, you can do it on your own. After all, you did write your book by yourself, didn't you?
What is my first step? Your first step is to decide paper or electronic (you can save money and time by using the electronic method)
But what about Poor Man's Copyright? You're kidding, right? It really is nothing more than a rumor. It may or may not stand up in court. Do you want to take that chance with your precious baby?
Ok, what's the next step? You must decide whether you want to pre-register (involves more money and time) or go right to registering. Pre-register can only be used if you are unpublished.
What's the benefit of pre-registering? If you think someone has stolen your material or is claiming you stole theirs, that's what pre-registering is for. The cost is $115, and if you change your mind it is not refundable. Come on, did you think the gov't would give it back? That involves even more paperwork. If not, save yourself money and time and skip this step.
Registering for copyright. Realize nothing is free in our free country. Registration electronically is $35 (remember Legal Zoom above). Paper registration is $50 Now there can and usually are other fees or charges. For instance, Let's say you're in a hurry and you want it now. To expedite the handling of the registration is a mere $760 plus $50 per work. Fed Ex is $40. Do you really need to expedite it? Totally up to you.
Do I get a certificate? You can, if you want one. Of course it costs. Do you need one? If you have registered, you have registered. If you need it for legal matters, then get one. Or perhaps you want to frame it on your hero's wall. It will cost, but it might look nice hanging on that wall.
Does the copyright cover all countries? Don't you wish. The US has contracts on copyrighting with most countries, but not all.
I'm going to do it! Great. Be aware you must transmit or mail your manuscript/work to them. One copy is required for unpublished, 2 copies for published.
But I'm writing a collection and it's all not finished yet. That's ok. Send the manuscript with all the titles you plan to put in there. This is actually good for poetry and assundry items. You don't have to copyright each piece, but you will have to send them all eventually. Check the gov't's website for the timeframe.
Think about this: Do you want your manuscript to be placed in libraries? If you do, guess what? You have to get the little library number for that work. How do you do that? You pay the copyright office $50 and they notify the libraries. Now your book can be library-ized.
Just how long is this going to take? Electronically, 4 to 5 months, although many are registered sooner. Paper request (paper request? You're kidding!) up to 15 months. One of the benefits of electronically registering is that you can follow the progress online.
I just do e-books, so I don't need to copyright. Stop right there! Any manuscript can be stolen or someone claim you stole their works. Going self-published or e-books, you don't have the benefit of an agent working with you on this. Piracy on e-anything is a great business. Again, it is your decision.
My work is already out there. You can, at any time register for a copyright. But if someone else beats you to it, there's that law suit again.
Anything else I should know? You betcha. Keep in mind that registering for copyrights is a public record. Anyone can search through these. The US Copyright Office does not sell your information, it is public record.
What else do I need to know? You can ask your questions at www.copyright.gov It's a fairly friendly site. Don't trust answers posted in forums. This is your baby. Know its and your rights.
But I still don't know if I should or shouldn't. This is your choice. Up to you. Weigh the facts and make a decision based on your needs (or fears). A word of caution: be careful who you share your writings with. Make sure you trust that person.
Are you going to copyright your manuscript? Huh? Me? Um, I don't know. What do all of you think?
Where did you find all this info at? all questions and answers (except for Legal Zoom) were found at:
This author does not endorse Legal Zoom nor have any business ties with Legal Zoom. It is only used as an example.