Hello, SEers! Mae here, tossing out a question about copyright. Do you, or don’t you?
We all know that from the moment we create an original work, it belongs to us. Should it stray elsewhere, proving ownership is another matter. Yes, your work is “out there” on Amazon with a date stamp, but is that enough if push comes to shove?
When I first started snooping around the idea of publication in my twenties, I came across Common Law Copyright or “Poor Man’s Copyright.” The concept was simple: seal your work in an envelope and send it to yourself certified mail. Once received, you put it away, and if ever needed, you’re able to prove the work is yours as of the postage date. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but a Common Law Copyright will not hold up in court.
By the time I actually started publishing in 2012, I looked into copyrighting my work. The Library of Congress makes it easy and affordable. You can copyright a literary work for $35.00. Personally, I find that inexpensive.
I went the route of applying for copyright for my first two books as it was a requirement of my publisher (I would have done it anyway). The publisher I work with now handles copyright for me, but I also have three indie titles to my name and expect to release others. For those three titles, I applied for copyrights. Many authors have told me it isn’t necessary, and they don’t bother.
The Library of Congress defines copyright as “a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.”
Do I really expect someone is going to steal my work? <snort> Not likely. But I did go through all the sweat, angst, and editing to create my books, so for me, the extra step of sealing them with a copyright is worth it. Kind of like a badge of honor. 🙂
If you’re interested, you can apply for a copyright through the official site for the Library of Congress. They have an E-Copyright (eCO) tutorial you can download in Powerpoint or PDF format through this link. Look to the bottom right of the screen. There is also a set of FAQ’s covering the basics of copyright and why many authors and other creative types take this route.
How do you feel about copyright? Is it something you do, something you might do, or something you don’t feel is necessary. Copyright is voluntary. There is no right or wrong answer, only what works for you. Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below—ready, set, go!