I’m asked all the time about copyrighting. What is a copyright? How do you spell copyright? Should I copyright my writing? Should I register my copyright? Am I protected if I don’t copyright my work? How do I copyright my story? How much does it cost to copyright my book? How long does a copyright last?

Okay, let’s see what we can figure out based on information obtained from Frequently Asked Questions  http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/ on the United States Copyright Office’s web page.

What is a copyright? A copyright is a legal right granted to an author that protects his or her original writing from others who claim the work is theirs. A copyright recognizes that the story written is the property of the author and no one else. It protects against another person profiting from an author’s work.

How do you spell copyright? When you’re copyrighting written material, it’s easy to assume, the word should be spelled copywrite, but that’s an entirely different animal. To copywrite is to write copy, especially for advertisements and press releases. When we talk about protecting our work, the word is spelled copyright. Think right; you’re claiming the right to your work.

Should I copyright my writing? Yes, in the sense that you should put your name and date on each story or book you write. Adding the copyright symbol © is a nice touch, but it is not necessary for your work to be protected.

Should I register my copyright? It’s up to you. Registering a claim of ownership to something you’ve written with the United States Copyright Office makes it easier to prove the work is yours should someone else attempt to illegally use it or claim he or she actually wrote the material, but it is not required.

Am I protected if I don’t copyright my work? Yes, you are protected under the law whether your work is registered with the copyright office or has the copyright symbol © affixed. Your copyright exists the moment you put words on a page.

How do I copyright my story? If you decide to copyright your book, you’ll need to submit the proper forms to the United States Copyright Office. You can obtain an application from the copyright office’s website, http://www.copyright.gov/.

How much does it cost to copyright my book? To register the copyright for your book online with the U.S. Copyright Office costs $35.

How long does a copyright last? Generally a registered copyright lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years.

What is a poor man’s copyright? This refers to the belief by many authors that they are totally protected if they mail or email a copy of their work to themselves. Doing this doesn’t afford an author any additional protection and is not a substitute for actual registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

If you want to know more, you can take a look at United States Copyright Office http://www.copyright.gov/ website or read a circular titled Copyright Basics.  http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

So, what do you think? Do you believe registering your copyright with the government is a good idea? Have you ever registered a copyright? Have you experienced a time when someone used your work without your permission? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below, and let’s start a conversation.

Pictures compliments of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net


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