One of the hottest trends in information consumption comes in the form of e-books. Almost every time you are online you see a new one surface regarding how to build an online business, a newly released memoir, or even a recipe book. With all this information readily available online – not to mention easy to copy – how do you keep your original content protected yet still available? Copyrighting your materials can help prevent theft from being a part of your story.
Writing any kind of book takes hours of hard work, research, and crafting. The minute it is posted to the internet, it is at risk for infringement. We see this issue frequently, and if you are posting content you created to the internet, it should be protected. The only way to solidify your ownership is by way of a registered copyright. Copyright is an incredibly complex area of the law. But very basically, it allows an owner (or his/her authorized representative) of original materials to exploit (publish, profit from, perform, print, record, etc.) that material.
An owner of the original material does not need to register his/her copyright. Copyright exists as soon as the original material becomes fixed in a tangible medium. However, federal registration solidifies that ownership. Registration creates a constructive notice and permits an owner to assert his/her ownership rights against another person (i.e., in court). Whereas simply claiming copyright ownership only prevents copying. In short, without registration, owners are left with very little “teeth” to bite back against people stealing from them. Moreover, a federal registration acts as proof that you, in fact, own the work, whereas, without it, you’d be required to prove (with evidence) that you created the work first (i.e., before the theft occurred). While this seems easy, sometimes it can be challenging, particularly if the competing works were published close in time.
Traditionally, publishing houses would register the copyright on behalf of the owner, per the publishing contract. However, now that self-publishing has become increasingly popular, it is often left to the owner to register the work(s) themselves. This isn’t always readily apparent or disclosed by self-publishing companies and can leave owners exposed without even realizing it.
Copyright disputes often become expensive very quickly. It pays to protect yourself early-on, as federal copyright registration is relatively inexpensive. Unsure about your original work? Consult an attorney that specializes in copyright today.