Copyrights: Why You Need Proof of Ownership!
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 copyrights are not free, they are much cheaper than hiring a lawyer and paying court fees. In the U.S., one will run you about $35 in the U.K., ₤39 (for 5 years) and in Canada, $50. Trust me, it’s money well spent.
What you get is not legal protection but evidence. Your work is legally yours when you commit it to paper or digital file. What you are paying for is a paper with a registration number that legally connects you to your book. When I got mine through the mail, I was so excited that I immediately published my book. It almost felt like getting a driver’s license. Sadly, not everyone feels this way about their work and prefer to do things on the cheap which has spawned all kinds of hair brained schemes which could harm an author’s career.
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. Do you know what a publisher does after acquiring a book? They register it at the copyright office!
- 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 thief!
Still not convinced a copyright is a necessary expense? Here’s a story for ya: Just a few years ago, there were several people pirating books on Amazon by the hundreds, if not, thousands. However, when authors reported these people for stealing their work, Amazon asked THEM to prove they were indeed the “real” owner of the property. Remember indie author stands for independent author. Nobody’s watching our backs, not Amazon, or anybody else!
I hope none of you ever has to defend a copyright but let’s not base our writing business on wishful thinking. In the real world there are thieves, con artists and dream killers, don’t open yourself up to being robbed of what’s rightfully yours. *Stepping off soapbox*
If you want to read more on the subject of copyrights and worst case scenarios check out: What To Do When Someone Pirates Your Ebook