Registering your manuscript with your government’s copyright (intellectual property) office is one of the most basic responsibilities of any indie author. To claim the copyright of any work, one needs legal documented proof from a government copyright office. Though most copyrights are not free, they are much cheaper than hiring a lawyer and paying court fees in the event the authorship of your book comes into question. In the U.S., it will run you about $45, and in Canada, the fee is $50 however in the U.K., you don’t have to register at all.
What you get is not legal protection but evidence. Your work is legally yours once you commit it to paper or digital files. What you are paying for here is a paper with a registration number that legally connects you to your book.
Myths About Copyrights That Will Not Die
- You can skip the whole legal process by mailing your manuscript to yourself via certified mail. This is called the poor man’s copyright and no, it’s not true.
- It annoys editors at publishing companies who want to buy your work. Who cares?
- Anything your write down is automatically copyrighted and can’t be stolen. That’s like saying your car won’t get stolen because it belongs to you, try telling that to a car thief.
Still not convinced a copyright is a necessary expense? Here’s a story for you: several years ago, there was a guy plagiarizing thousands of books on Amazon. Many of those authors he was ripping off sent several cease-and-desist letters to Amazon hoping for a simple solution. However, Amazon asked them (the authors) to prove they were the real owners of the intellectual property. Remember indie author stands for independent author, nobody’s watching our backs, not Amazon, or anybody else.
For those of you in the U.S., the court system actually rewards copyright owners with more money in damages in the event of a lawsuit. Though it’s possible to win a copyright lawsuit without the actual legal document, you won’t get as much money in damages as someone who does. That is written into the law.
I hope none of you ever has to defend your copyright but let’s not base our writing business on wishful thinking. In the real world there are thieves and con artists, so don’t open yourself up to being robbed of what’s rightfully yours.