You’ve just finished writing your manuscript. You’re ready to self-publish and share your creation with the world—but is it legally protected? Do you need to copyright your book before you can self-publish?
Copyright Protection is Automatic
First, it’s important to understand what copyright is and how it protects your work. Copyright protects original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form. This includes literary works such as books, plays, poems, stories, articles, and other creative works like music, architectural plans, paintings, photographs, and drawings. When you create something original—and by “original” we mean something new that hasn’t been produced before from someone else’s work—you automatically have copyright protection.
That means legally you do not need to copyright your manuscript before self-publishing it. Your manuscript is automatically protected by copyright as soon as you write it down.
Benefits of Federal Copyright Registration
So, if copyright protection is automatic, why do people go through the time and expense to register their copyrights anyway with the federal government? This is a great question and important for every author to understand.
The main benefit of federally registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is that it allows you to go to court and sue for infringement and recover statutory damages and attorney’s fees if someone uses your work without permission. Additionally, registering your copyright within five years of publication is considered prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and the facts stated in the copyright certificate.
So, while it’s not necessary to copyright your manuscript before self-publishing it, it’s still a very wise idea to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. This will give you additional legal protection, allow you to sue for damages, and make it easier to prove your copyright in case of infringement.
Before you officially go to print, contact us with any copyright questions. We are here to help you make an informed choice about if, and when, you should apply for copyright protection with the U.S. Copyright Office and assist you with the registration process. Simply contact us at (888) 666-0062 or click here to schedule an Initial Discovery Session online.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.