Because the internet is a jungle and people will rip off your book and give it away for free. What’s in it for them? The more traffic they drive through their website the more money they make from advertising. Yes, it’s that sad. Do not ever download free e-books unless they are from a reputable site like Amazon or Smashwords. Authors work for years to write and publish their novel. They only ask for a few dollars for about eight hours of entertainment!
Do you need to copyright?
Supposedly, the fact of having the copyright symbol on your work and it being distributed should be enough to attribute the original work to you. In practice, if you find yourself litigating over rights, you are in much better shape if you are the official owner of the copyright as deposited with the government. Since it’s only a $35 cot per work copyrighted I think it’s a no brainer: do it!
1-Go to the government website and create an account (username and password). Whenever you have the final version of your manuscript (it can be slightly different from the final version, meaning you can do minimal changes to your work and it will still be covered by your copyright. For example, it’s okay to copyright before proofing.)
2-On the left of the website, click on “register a new claim”. (You can see in my screen the last novel I copyrighted, Forget Nico, you would have nothing there).
7-Authors: In the next screen, you have to add the author(s). If this is your first time, click new and fill all the required info. Since this is my 4th book I’ll just click on “add me”. As you can see from the screen below I only fill in the required fields. Hit save.
10-Limitation of Claim: If all the material is yours (original) just click continue. If your work contains any public domain or previously copyrighted work you need to specify that here by limiting your claim. I will just hit “continue”.
12-Correspondent: this is the person the office might bug with questions, again, Little Old Me clicks “add me” and continue.
14-Special handling: if you are in a hurry because you know someone’s about to raise hell trying to steal your work you pay more to get this done quickly. Typically…not. Just leave everything unchecked and click “continue”
15-Certification: this is where you make a legally binding declaration that this is your work and no one else’s.
- Song and book titles are free from copyright (you can mention them in your book)
- I would not worry about pop references like brands (this is my personal advice and you follow it at your own risk). As long as you are not slandering brands no one will mind some free advertising. If you are writing something negative about a brand change the name; don’t get sued!
- Lyrics are copyrighted material. Supposedly you cannot use lyrics in your writing unless you asked for permission and/or paid dues. Now, it is also a matter of common sense;iIf it’s a line with proper attribution you’ll be rarely bothered (still, you could be!) but don’t use a whole song or poem unless they have been around longer than the number of years below (mostly 70 years or less), depending on the country (make sure their copyright was not renewed)
16- Review Submission: check that all the info you added is correct. If not click on the corresponding tab on the left and change it. If yes, click add to cart.
17- What next? Pay the $35 dollar fee and upload your PDF. You will receive your copyright certificate within a few months (I received mine between 2 and 5 months after application).
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I am a relentless little nerd and the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS): an irreverent indie series taking place in Italy and speaking of love, pain, and happiness with a healthy dose of humor <3