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Copyrighting Your Book

by Ron Kurtus (27 June 2010)

You can protect your written material from others using it without your permission or providing you compensation by establishing a copyright on it.

This can be as simple as stating "Copyright © 2011 by (Your Name)" on the Copyright Page of your book. However, some people advise you to formally copyright your material through the U.S. Library of Congress Copyright office or the equivalent office in your country.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Copyright protects your writing

A copyright states that you control the right to copy your material. In other words, people have to ask for permission to copy your material. You may even require compensation from people using your work.

Copyrights protect your work similar to the way patent laws protect an invention. However, a copyright is less expensive and much easier to obtain than a patent. The copyright protects everything in your book except the title. This includes your text, photographs, drawings and maps.

Simple copyright

According to the United States copyright laws and those of most other countries, once you write a manuscript—called "creating a work"—you are automatically protected by copyright.

It is enforceable, provided you include a notice of your copyright in the form of "Copyright © 2010 by (Your Name)" within the work.

The length of the copyright is for you life (the author's life) plus fifty years. Thus, ownership of your book could be a valuable part of your estate and should be mentioned in your will.

Registration of a copyright

You can register your copyright with the Library of Congress (LOC) Copyright Office in the United States and similar government organizations in other countries.

Since simply stating your copyright is sufficient for protection, the formality of registering your copyright is usually required as a prerequisite of filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

Procedure to register

The procedure to register your book first requires that you have finished, printed copies of your book. Download the application form from the Copyright Office and fill it out. Complete the form and send it, along with copies of your book and the required fee to the Copyright Office.

Detailed instructions, the application form and other information are available at:

LOC Copyright Office

Simplified information on the copyright process is available at:

Taking the Mystery out of Copyright

Click and Copyright


A copyright protects your written material from others using it without your permission. By stating "Copyright © 2011 by (Your Name)" on the Copyright Page of your book, you establish your copyright. However, in the case of a lawsuit, you need to formally copyright your material through the U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Office or the equivalent office in your country.

Protect your work

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


U.S. Copyright Office

10 Big Myths about copyright explained

Publishing Resources


Top-rated books on Self-Publishing


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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Self-Publishing topics

Copyrighting Your Book

Self-Publishing topics

Decide to start business

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Printing preparations

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Prepare to market

Convert format

Check Copy in eReader


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