How to Copyright a Book – 4 Tips to Protect Your Novel

Protecting your book under copyright law can be very simple and swift. Additionally, with so many online copyright registries, it’s has also become much more affordable than in the past.

Tip 1: Make Certain Your Book is the Subject of Copyright

Before protecting your book under copyright law, you must first determine whether your work falls under a category that copyright protects. In the case of a book it would fall under “Literary Works” because it is a nondramatic textual work expressed with words, numbers, or symbols and may or may not contain illustrations.

Tip 2: Originality is Required to Copyright Books

To be considered as ‘original’, your book must not be directly copied from someone else. However, this doesn’t, mean your book cannot be based on someone else’s work or that it can’t be a derivative work, as both of these are permissible under copyright law.

To be original, the work must contain some component of creativity. In other words, if you were to create a compilation of recipes, the order and the types of recipes you selected required originality, and therefore, would be protectable under copyright law. The actual listing of ingredients is not protected by copyright law, however, the detailed expression of the methods, directions, tips, and suggestions for serving would be.

With regards to other types of books, the story line doesn’t have to be original; however, the actual expression (the actual words and sentences) of the story must be yours and not copied. In other words, there could be one thousand books about online copyright methods (a general topic); however, each one can own the copyright to their specific expression of their book.

Tip 3: Protect your Book by Making it Tangible

Now that you can identify that you book qualifies for protection under copyright law, you need to put it in a form that will allow for copyright protection. In order to qualify as a literary work under copyright law, the book must be put in a fixed form. To create a ‘fixed form’ of your book, you just have to write it on paper or save it on your hard drive. In other words, once you have created a tangible form of your work, it would be considered ‘fixed’ and, thus, is protectable under copyright law.

Tip 4: Choose a Copyright Registry for Your Book

Once you complete the steps outlined above, your work will be automatically protected under copyright law. However, it could be very difficult to prove you are the original creator of the book if infringement occurs. As such, many authors choose to register their books with a copyright registry.

Note: US citizens can register their book with any copyright registry; however, if they want to take their claim to court, they will have to register with the US Copyright Office. This does not apply to non-US citizens. Having said this, most copyright infringement cases do not go to court, as the infringing party is willing to settle once they see the evidence provided from the registration.

To choose a copyright registry, simply type in ‘protect copyright’ into a search engine and you can choose amongst the many that appear. Ensure the registry you choose does not have any hidden costs and will protect your book for the life of copyright (50-70 years). Once registered, you can feel confident that you have the evidence required by the courts to prove your ownership of the book if infringement occurs.

Disclaimer: The above information is meant as a general guide to further your copyright knowledge and does not constitute legal advice. For questions about your specific work, you should consult a copyright lawyer in your country.

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