How To Copyright Your Book And Protect Your Asset
Now that you have spent so much time and energy writing a book, you’ll certainly want ownership over your creation. This will give you the rights to distribute it, display it, and reproduce it.
Copyrighting a book is an easy process, but the features of copyright protection are more complex. To copyright a book completely, you as the author must obtain the protection of federal registration.
If your country is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (as most countries are), then your book is protected as soon as you create it in a format that can be seen directly or with the help of a machine or device.
However, while your book is technically copyrighted as soon as you write it, you have no way of proving that you are the original author.
Copyright prevents people from copying work, however, it does nothing to prevent simultaneous creation. This means if two people have the same idea at the same time, and it doesn’t have a copyright, then both people would have an equal claim to the copyright.
Having an officially registered copyright is a requirement before you are able to pursue legal action against anyone who has violated your copyrighted work.
As a side note, you can’t copyright the title of your book, unless you want to trademark your title, which can be a lengthy and expensive process with no guaranteed success.
Here’s how to copyright your book properly to protect your valuable asset:
To copyright a book, you have to register your copyright, which creates constructive notice and is a service provided by the Library of Congress.
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There is no requirement to do this for your book to be copyrighted, but it’s a good idea. It can save you time and money down the road should someone dispute your claim to the book.
Having constructive notice will let you assert your copyright in public notice starting on the date of registration and moving forward. A copyright alone can only prevent other people from copying your work.
This is an easy and inexpensive process and will give you a lot of intellectual property protection.
In order to register your creative work, go to the Library of Congress’s website, copyright.gov. Here, you will find an online portal where you can register necessary copyrights for photographs, written works, and sculptures.
Simply fill out the form and pay the required fee to become registered.
If you are thinking about publishing your book in various countries, it may be a good idea to ask a lawyer or your publisher’s legal team if it would be beneficial to you to register your work in all countries where it will be published.
Note: If you are self-publishing your book, go ahead and submit it to Amazon or other booksellers before you copyright, as the process can take 8 to 13 months to complete. You don’t want to give up those profits while you are waiting!
What does a copyright page look like?
The copyright page is typically located on the verso (left-hand side page) of the title page. It includes the copyright notice, the edition information, the printing history, the publication information, the cataloging data (CIP), any legal notices, and the book’s ISBN or identification number.
Rows of numbers may also be included at the bottom of the page to show the year and number of the printing. Any credits that need to be given for design, editing, production, and illustration are also typically listed on this page.
While the most important piece of information on the copyright page is the copyright notice itself, there are also a few other elements that make up this page, including the © symbol or the word “Copyright,” the first year of the work’s publication, and an identification information of the copyright’s owner.
What other information can be included on the copyright page?
Some pieces of information may not be applicable to your book, but the copyright page is where the publisher has to put any legal notices or other information that is needed for use by the book trade. (Note: the more info you include on your page, the more you and your book will be protect.)
Reservation of Rights. This is where you state what rights you reserve and what you will allow. This includes the words, “All rights reserved” or something similar. Other examples are:
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address the publisher at:
All rights reserved. This book or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, at “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.
Typically, the author allows the book to be available for “fair use” (meaning that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim), as this is difficult to prevent.
Other permissions will need the approval of the publisher, so the copyright page will also include the publisher’s editorial address.
ISBN Number. There are some booksellers who require and ISBN number and some who don’t. Amazon (Kindle) does not require it, but Barnes and Noble (ePub), Apple Book (ePub), and libraries and bookstores (print) do.
You will need separate ISBNs for the different formats of your ebook and your printed book. Go to this website here for more details on ISBNs for ebooks. All U.S. ISBNs are issued to publishers (and self-publishers) through a company called Bowker. Visit MyIdentifiers.com to get your numbers.
Name Usage: If you use a pen name rather than your legal name, you can use the pen name on your copyright page. Or if you are writing and publishing under a business, you can use your company as the copyright owner on your copyright page.
Ordering Information. If you are using a larger publisher, the copyright page will likely include ordering information for your book, such as quantity and individual sales, college textbook requests or preferences for course adoption, and information regarding orders completed by trade bookstores or wholesalers. Specific contact information can be included for each case individually. Here’s an example:
For information about special discounts available for bulk purchases, sales promotions, fund-raising and educational needs, contact _____ at ______ (include email and phone contact info).
Trademark and Other Notices. The publisher also will print any trademark notices that they hold to names and logos of their company or their imprint. They may also include a statement about the environmental friendliness of all of the products and processes that they used in the production of the book, such as a notice that it has been printed on recycled paper or they only used non-toxic inks.
Your Website: If you have a website or blog, be sure to include the URL (with a link for Kindle or ePub books). An example might be:
Visit the author’s blog, Live Bold and Bloom, at www.liveboldandbloom.com.
CIP Data. In the interest of library sales, the copyright page will include any cataloging-in-publication data (CIP),which refers to the bibliographic record created by the Library of Congress or another company for a book prior to its publication.
If the publisher is not a participator in the Library of Congress, they need to find another distributor who can provide this necessary information for a fee like CIPblock.com.
This process isn’t necessary unless you plan to market your book specifically to librarians.
Edition Info. The copyright page will also include the edition of the book. For example, if the book is the second edition, this information may or may not be given on the title page, but it will definitely be specified on the copyright page.There can be indications of printings and years. These tend to look like odd strings of numbers near the bottom of the page.
Usually, the years are listed in the left margin, and on the right, there are a series of numbers to specify printings. If the book needs to be reprinted one year, the entire plates for the book don’t have to be remade.
Rather, one digit can be erased off of each series of numbers to update the notice. Because digital printing is becoming increasingly popular, this series of numbers is likely to become an artifact.
Notice of Contributors. Finally, some publishers like to use the copyright page to give credit to anyone who has contributed to the book. This may include designers, proofreaders, production managers, editors, and indexers.
The copyright page is essentially the place where the publisher is able to handle any legal and bibliographic necessities before the author takes over. When you are making your own copyright page, choose the elements listed above that seem most applicable to your book.
After you get your copyright, make sure to have a backup.
Make copies of the forms to keep in your own files, whether they are submitted physically or electronically. This way, you have covered your tracks and have easy access to the information if you need it instead of having to rely on the government to be able to pull up your files.
Below are two samples of a copyright page. The first is a longer version that includes the CIP data block (in red). You’ll replace this with your own or delete it if you’re not obtaining CIP. It also includes edition information and printing numbers (the string at the bottom), as well as dates for future editions.
Here is a shorter sample version of a copyright page:
A copyright page does not have to be complicated — it just needs the necessary information to prove that the work is your own and you own the rights to it.