November 1, 2016

101 Series – How to Copyright a Book

Many authors ask how to register a copyright on a book. Generally, registering a book for copyright protection involves determining if there are one or more than one author. If a book has multiple authors, then each may be entitled ownership of the book’s copyright. In addition, a book may be a published as a single publication or over time. Is the book a modification of another’s book or is it an original book. Does the book include photographs or illustrations which must be protected? Again, these are just some of the many issues which may impact the registration for the copyright of the book.

The Process of Obtaining a Copyright for a Book

The first step in copyrighting a book is to determine what exactly is to be protected with a copyright and who are the book’s authors. Once the particular book is identified, then we need to look at who is the copyright owner of the book. Generally, that means who will have the rights to stop others from copying the book. To be copyrighted, a book must be an original work which is fixed in a tangible form or expression. If the book is printed, then the printed version must be copyrighted. If the book is electronic, then the electronic version should be protected.

Registering for Copyright Protection

Registering the book for copyright protection can be as easy as meeting with a Copyright Attorney who will then obtain a copy of the book, if published, and ask a series of questions related to who owns various rights in the book, when was it first published and who will be the owner of the copyright registration.

Instead of using a copyright attorney, a copyright on a book may be registered by the author directly with the copyright office for a nominal filing fee. A copyright registration for the book can be very valuable to help stop someone who attempts to steal your book. If done correctly, the law provides for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per book infringed, depending on how the book is registered.

While hiring an attorney to copyright a book is not cheap, in contrast to the amount you could recover against someone who steals your book, it is a small investment for potentially a very large award. If you would like to copyright a book, please contact one of our Copyright attorneys.