How to Copyright an eBook or Self Published Book

This is how to copyright your eBook or self published book. After you have spent hours, days, weeks, months, or even years–the last thing you want to happen is for someone to come along and steal your work and redistribute it or copy it.

Copyright infringement is a big deal all over the world. Some companies, writers, and artists lose millions by having their work stolen or redistributed illegally.

Thankfully, there are national and international laws that are in place to help protect your work. So while you may run into a situation where someone infringes your copyright, you do have direct protection and legal options to ensure your work & rights are preserved.

In this article, I will explain how to copyright you work, and other basics about copyrighting. This will mostly deal with the Unites States copyright laws, although many things will apply to international copyrights as well.

Do You Have To Copyright Your Work at All?

Surprisingly, you do not have to even register your work with the US copyright office to have copyright protection. The law clearly indicates that as soon as the work is finished, you own the copyright, and therefore, have copyright protection. So as soon as you are done with your self published book or eBook, you automatically have copyright protection.

Not registering a copyright officially may be the best thing for certain publishing mediums where it would be impractical to attempt to copyright something (such as a website, eBook you will distribute for free, etc.). Instead, you can simply publish and distribute your work at your will, and you still have protection.

Should You Copyright Your Work At All?

While the law clearly provides protection for your copyrighted work even if you don’t register it with the copyright office, it may be a very good idea in many cases. For example, if you really spend a lot of time on your work, and want to ensure you get full protection (and suspect you may get infringed and have to later bring a lawsuit), I would highly recommend registering you work.

Registering your work can provide substantial benefit, and I would recommend anyone seeking to sell or distribute their work on a large scale to do so. Some of the benefits of taking the time and money to register your copyright include:

  1. It gives you a much better case in a court of law if someone later tries to infringe your copyright. This way, you have a clear record of proof of your publishing/registration date. This will help to ensure your work is protected, and you are much more likely to win cases of infringement.
  2. It makes you work appear more professional.
  3. It gives you peace of mind to know that you have legally protected your work, and also can freely sell or distribute it at this point, and more.
  4. The law states that there is a mandatory deposit requirement when you publish a work. You are supposed to submit a copy of the published work within 3 months of completion. If you register your work, you can do all of this together.

So while you may not have to register your copyright protection in all cases, it may definitely be beneficial to do so in some instances. Again, if you plan to publish an eBook or real book, I would highly recommend you take the time to register it.

How Do You Register for Copyright on eBooks or Self Published Books?

If you live in the United States, you can register for copyright protection via the internet or mail. The copyright office has a great website, and you can find loads more information about what copyright protection includes, how long copyrights last, registration requirements, and much more.

The general fee ranges from about $35-200, depending on whether or not you take advantage of any copyright searches or other services.

A Few Other Words on Copyrighting Work

Another thing you want to beware of is that while you may totally come up with the writing yourself, you must ensure that someone else hasn’t written a similar work that is still under copyright protection first.

It may surprise you that someone out in the world may very well have written a book very similar to yours. You may share similar ideas, phrasing, and so forth. This can happen even if you have never even read their work (or vise versa).

So it may be beneficial to do a quick search in the library of congress to ensure you aren’t using a copyrighted title, phrase, etc. It would also be a good idea to ensure that your work isn’t too similar to someone else’s. Again, it may seem unrealistic to you, but I can assure you it happens. There are billions of people in this world, and more than one may have used the title, “How to make money online,” or “How to cook.”

Conclusion: To Copyright or Not to Copyright? That is the Self Published Question

I think the most important issues to consider are what your ultimate goals are, and whether or not you feel your copyright may be infringed (and if it would bother you or financially harm you if it was).

If you are creating a simple eBook to distribute for free, you may want to pass on the copyright registration process. In this case, it may be an unnecessary expense and waste of time.

If, however, you plan on selling your eBook or self published book, I would highly recommend you take the time to actually register it. This way, you will feel more professional, have a strong legal record of your copyright, and be able to defend your work in a court of law.


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