Protecting Your Work: Be Sure to Copyright

With so many ways for your book to be seen and shared in this Digital Age, how can you protect what you’ve written? Copyright is an author’s best defense in keeping their work safe from being used without permission.

What is Copyright?

Copyright provides protection under U.S. laws for original works of authorship, such as books, movies or computer software. Your work is protected by Copyright laws as soon as it is created and fixed in a tangible form, whether it is published or unpublished. Copyright does not protect ideas, facts, systems or methods of operation. Copyright also does not protect names, titles, slogans or short phrases, so you will not be able to Copyright the title of your book.

The owner of the Copyright for a book has the exclusive right to do or authorize: reproduction, performing/displaying, adaptation and distribution of the work.

Copyright protection lasts for the duration of the author’s life plus 70 years.

What should I do?

Authors who are self-publishing should be sure to place the word “Copyright” or the © symbol, along with the year of publication and name inside the book (i.e. © 2011 John Smith). No other registration or action with the Copyright Office is required, but authors should consider filing a formal Copyright registration for the additional benefits it provides.

Filing formal Copyright registration creates a public record of your Copyright and gives you a certificate for the Copyright. If you ever need to file a lawsuit for infringement of your work, a formal Copyright Registration is necessary.

How do I register?

You can apply for Copyright with the assistance of a publishing services provider, or on your own through the Copyright Office.  Mailing a copy of your book to yourself does not count as formal filing of Copyright.

Be aware that when you file for Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, some of the information you provide, such as the book’s title, and your full name and address, will become public record and will be visible on the internet. Your manuscript will not be included in the online record of your registration.

For more information about Copyright, visit