Is your book legally protected from copyright infringement? Would you be able to prove your rights to your work in a court of law? Though anything you create in written or viewable form is automatically copyrighted according to United States law, such a claim will not stand up in court. To prove you own the work, you need a certificate from the Copyright office at the Library of Congress.
It’s a pretty easy process to obtain a copyright certificate. You fill out an application online, pay the fee (between $35 for online registration and $85 for paper registration), then send two copies of the work to the Copyright office at the Library of Congress. It takes several months to process the application after which they send you a copyright certificate. Keep this certificate on file in case of any future legal issues.
Here’s how you do it:
Create an Account
- Go to: http://www.copyright.gov/
- Under the title, “How do I…” click on the first blue box “Register a copyright”
- Click on the button near the top “Log in to eCO”
- Look to the side box of “User Login.” If you have not already set up an account, click on the link at the bottom of the box: “If you are a new user, click here to register.”
- Fill in all the required information such as name and contact information and click “next.”
- Finish the registration process by accepting their terms and login to your account.
Register Your Work
- Make sure you are logged in to your account.
- On the left side bar, look under “Copyright Registration” and find “Register a new copyright.”
- Answer the three question to determine which type of copyright registration you need then click “Start Registration.”
- Looking at the list, decide which type of work you are registering. For more information on each one, click the names. When you’ve decided, select it from the pull down menu near the bottom then click “Continue.”
- To add the title of a work, click “New” and choose the “Title Type” and enter in the title, then click “Save.”
- When you’re done filling in the information on a screen, click “Continue” to move to the next one.
- Once you’ve moved through all the screens and everything has a checkmark next to it, check over your work and click “Add to Cart.”
- Click “Checkout” and then click your form of payment.
- The next screen is letting you know you’re leaving the eCO website to make the payment. Click “OK.”
- Fill in your payment information and click “Continue.”
- Verify your payment information and continue.
- Mail two copies of the work to the copyright office. You do not get these back.
- The processing time for e-Filing is 3-5 months. If you would rather submit a paper application, the processing time is 7-13 months.
- The Copyright Office will send you a copyright certificate in the mail to the address you provided.
When you go to publish your book, make sure to include a note on the copyright page such as the following: “© 2014 (your name). No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.”
With both of these protections in place, you have firmly established you own the copyright to your work and such proof will stand up in court if you ever need to defend yourself or stop someone else from using your work as their own.