Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Do Writer’s Need to Copyright Their Writing?

“Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.”—Mark Twain

I’m often asked, “Should I copyright my writing? How do I do it?”

You own the copyright to your original writing. Besides securing peace of mind, registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office entitles you to monetary damages in cases of infringement.

Some authors wait until their work is contracted for publication. Usually a book publisher applies for the copyright. Ask for the copyright to be in your name, not the publisher's name. If your book goes out of print, then you don’t have to go through the hassle of transferring the copyright back to you.

There are exceptions to owning your writing. These include:
* Writing as an employee
* Creating works made for hire.
* Selling or transferring the copyright.

Understanding Copyrights
Filling out a copyright form is pretty straightforward. However, before registering your intellectual property with the U.S. Copyright Office, visit these two sites to brush up on the ins and outs of obtaining a copyright.

FindLaw provides articles regarding copyright ownership, the rights of copyright owners, how to put a copyright notice on your creation, when copying is okay—the fair use rule, how trademarks differ from patents and copyrights, and the top ten reasons you should claim and register your copyright.

Nolo supplies information regarding how to get maximum protection from the federal copyright laws, and frequently asked questions that explain what a copyright is and what exactly it protects.

The United States Copyright Office is the original everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-copyrights-but-were-afraid-to-ask source. It states current fees, details regarding registering literary works, visual arts, performing arts, sound recordings, and serials/periodicals, and transferring copyright ownership. You can obtain copyright forms here.

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