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We had a lawyer at our local writing group meeting this month and he was talking about how authors can protect their work. especially self-published ones

Like many folks, I thought that copyright protected us once a work was finished. And it does, but not as much as one would think.

If you register your copyright, you have far more protection (aka you can sue in a FED court, not just local level) if someone does try to take your work...or parts of it. Copyright registration should be done within 3 months of the final version (aka you go to print) of your book, but the lawyer said you can do it anytime after if you have older titles out.

It's only $35-55 and can save you a lot of hassle, pain and money down the line. Just wanted to spread the word- do what you will with the info!:cool:


Myth Weaver
I think we have something similar here in the UK/EU [not that I'm anywhere near thinking about that].
In the EU they are changing the laws around fair-use, and it looks like establishing copyright could become far more important, expensive and complicated... it looks like collections of stories, song, images etc. would have to be registered individually to be covered. So your short booklet of 10 poems... That will be £350 please...
I hope I have this wrong...
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So far, in what I've read, I've seen advice to not worry about copyright. The reasons that I've read were pretty solid. But the main message comes down to this:

The largest danger for an Indie author is not piracy, it's obscuracy.

What are you really losing through piracy? The people that download pirated books usually won't pay for them even if they can. And after they pirate them, they read them and possibly go on to word of mouth advertising, which is the strongest source of advertising out there. Furthermore, a lot of books are pirated because they are not available on every platform and this annoys people.

I've also read advice to make all your work DRM free. It messes up your files and makes them less accessible and shareable, further encouraging piracy and making word of mouth more difficult.

As to people stealing materials, I've read that cases of this are very rare and even if it happens, there is so much stuff out there that it comes down to the question 'what's the point'?

Apart from that, copyright does not need to be registered. The moment you put down words, you have legal copyright over those words.

So in the end you should consider it for yourself, but I don't think I will be spending money on it. And even if I'm plagiarized, the legal costs involved are an expense that most Indies can't afford.

That's my two cents on the subject.
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toujours gai, archie
You can have a copyright on your work and still choose not to pursue the pirates. But if someone took part of your work and made a million dollars from it, without attribution, then you might wish you had spent the thirty-five buckazoids. Copyright is not DRM.

I agree with 2WayP on this: legal costs are ridiculous. Enforcing that copyright could cost you more than you can afford. Regardless of whether you register or not, legal disputes usually come down to who can throw his lawyer the furthest, regardless of what the law says.


$35 isn't a lot of money.
Do you think your copyright would stand up to a large companies lawyers that know every loophole?

You might get lucky and win a suit against another beginner that scores big on your work, but the big law firms would more then likely play the legal game until you couldn't fight no more or settle low ball to silence you.

The unknown writer is a small cog in a large factory of cogs. If your work is so good someone will steal it, get it to an agent or publisher as soon as possible. Ie get those big time lawyers on your side.
In the end, its cheaper for companies to deal with the writers or agents directly. They aren't looking to steal your work. It would be a one in a trillion shot for a hacker to find a best seller in a computer that hasn't been submitted yet.
Crooks want easy money, from what I hear, selling a book to agent/publisher isn't easy money. Once they commit, then it is worth something. The company will definately get the copyright submitted. Protect their investiment before it can be stolen.

IMHO don't worry about copyright. Its not worth anything until you (E)publish or sell it.

I do believe you should invest in Copyright if you e-publish. But you kind of have proof its yours by the date your book became available to public. But someone might try to say you stole it from them. But thats what the rough drafts are for, or the history of the document program you use.
Auto saved documents, world building that shows items in your book, character lists, it all shows you created the world in your book, the thief wouldn't likely have all the supporting evidence from your work.

Of course, just getting into court will be costly. Lawyer fees will render a book a liability quickly if someone pushed it.


Felis amatus
I don't agree that the little guy can't win against the big guy if they have solid intellectual property rights to work from. If you have a copyright registration and someone is infringing it, that's not a hard case to win. And if you registered the copyright within the appropriate time you can pursue statutory damages, which can add up in a hurry. The cost of copyright litigation is very high, though, particularly if the other side has money to fight and doesn't want to settle.

It's possible that the registration and availability of statutory damages could help you talk a lawyer into taking the case on a contingency. Doesn't happen often, but there are lawyers who have done it.


I know without sharing the settlement with a lawyer, I could not afford to fight a big company.

Laws are good, just the system is lopsided with those that have money. Endless delays run legal fees up quickly.
If you can get a lawyer and have the proof needed to show its your work, the lawyer shouldn't run out on easy money.

IMHO until someone believes your work is of value, no one will want to steal it. Once someone believes its of value, they will pay to have it protected and allow them to copy the work.

Personally, I don't have $35 to cover every work I have. (I believe its over 10 that I am editing or rewriting) Some won't ever see my scrutiny again, not wasted, just not good enough to save. None are worth anything until I finish them. I won't know if the finished product is worth anything until someone replies to my submissions. So, my writing costs me nothing but the computer I write them on, until I invest in them.


The point is, and this was from a lawyer who had successfully defended a writer friend when a guy published her book almost word for word was that if you register your copyright, you are giving one more layer of protection. That way if you do ever have to hire someone like him (his words) it's for 10 hours instead of 50 or more ;).

It's a personal call, I personally will be registering my published work, not against big companys, but against anyone who wants to mis-use it. HOWEVER, it does look like some some folks on here think we're discussing unpublished works- not so, the registering of a copyright happens after it is published. As in on Amazon, Kobo, Createspace, etc. Not just because you wrote it ;).


Felis amatus

Not entirely true with respect to publication. If you don't register an unpublished work and someone manages to infringe it (say someone in a critique group takes it and uses it as their own) you can still miss out on the some of the statutory benefits of registration because you didn't register in time. For example, you can lose statutory damages for infringements that occurred before you got the work registered. But the risk of infringement for an unpublished work is lower.