The Fine Print of Self-Publishing fifth edition

Five Great Reasons Why You Should Copyright Your Book

Obtaining a United States copyright is basically an affordable insurance policy to protect your book. Copyright protection arises automatically the moment the author fixes the work in a tangible form (i.e. when a writer writes her story), without the author having to do anything.

So why copyright your book if you’re automatically protected?

Copyright registration establishes a public record of your copyright and puts everyone in the world on notice of your copyright.

You cannot sue somebody for copyright infringement until you have registered your book with the Copyright Office.

No award for statutory damages or attorneys fees will be made for any infringement of a copyright in an unpublished book which occurs prior to registration of the copyright. The same holds true for published books, unless the registration is made within three months after the first publication.

If the registration of your book is done within five years from its creation, it is considered prima facie evidence in court. Prima facie evidence means that if you ever went to court, the registration of your copyright would be sufficient evidence of your ownership of the copyrighted material. The only way for another party to win would be for them to present evidence showing:

  • That they had a pre-existing copyright claim to the work.
  • That you permitted them to use your work.
  • That you didn’t actually create the work.
  • That you stole it from them.

U.S. Copyright registrations are recognized by the courts in 167 other countries.

The remedies available for infringement are broad. A court can enjoin an infringer from continuing his infringement. The court can also order that all infringing materials be seized. As for monetary damages, the injured party can choose to receive either his actual damages and profits made by the infringer or statutory damages which can be as high as $150,000.