Copyright law for literary works and intellectual property as dictated by the Berne Convention, is simple in that copyright protection is an automatic right. Under the Berne Convention, there's no need to register your book or written work with any registration service or copyright office. However, should you have a copyright dispute at any point, you will need to prove that you are the original author of your book or writing and the date it was completed.
This can be harder to prove than it may seem. With the advent of the Internet, one of the consequences of it is that copyright infringement has become a growing problem so it's important to understand how copyright protection works for your books before publishing them and releasing them into the public domain, especially if you plan on self publishing on somewhere like Amazon.
Even though copyright is an automatic right, you must still be aware of what you'll need to provide if anyone was to infringe your work and use it without your permission, if you want to take action against them.
There's six important points to think about when it comes to the copyright protection of a book:
Keep these points in mind as you are writing and creating literary works as by following these, can really help prove your copyright for books and save a lot of time and stress if there was an infringement.
The official way to show the copyright of your book, is with the use the copyright symbol (this is the "c" inside a circle) and adding details of the copyright. Below is a book copyright example:
© Copyright 2010-2021 Your Name/Pen Name. All Rights Reserved.
© Copyright 2010-2021 Your Name/Pen Name. All Rights Reserved.
Using a copyright registration service like Protect My Work it can make it much quicker and easier to prove you arethe original author of your work and legitimate copyright holder. You will receive a unique reference number for your work when you register it. Adding this unique reference number to the copyright notice works well as an effective copyright theft deterrent, so we advise something like this:
Copyright protected with ProtectMyWork.com Reference Number: 123456789
To ensure your books are protected by copyright, using of a copyright witness services such as Protect My Work has various benefits. Mainly, it offers immediate copyright proof and is quick and easy to setup. There is three ways that authors think to be able to prove the copyright of their written work:
Copyrighting your book using these methods, before its published is legitimate but not indisputable.
COMPUTER DATES AND TIMES
Believe it or not, dates and times on computer files can be changed. By going into the properties of the file, the date can be amended, Therefore, this alone is not a 100% safe way to prove the copyright for your book. Breaking this down further, you may find yourself having to prove that the computer the Word document was written on, was also your computer. This can be a very difficult thing to prove. If a third party was to dispute the computer or files, you may need to be independently verify this with a computer specialist which will inevitably cause delay and incur extra cost.
Another common method is to email your book to yourself or a friend, which in theory is a good idea but again, email content and text headers can be changed and amended. So as with the dates on computer files, if this was to be disputed you may find that you have to contact your internet service provider and ask them to verify through their web logs that the email, date and time was in fact correct and not altered. This will take time and no doubt add a level of stress as you try and navigate yourself through to the right department and support technician with the right authority and request the required data.
POOR MAN'S COPYRIGHT
Sending a hard copy to yourself in the post is known as "The Poor Man's Copyright". This is where you print your book are written work, put it in a sealed envelope and send it to yourself. The date stamp on the envelope provided by the post office would serve as proof of time for the existence of the work.
The big disadvantage to this is that you then have to save these envelopes in a safe place for the duration of your life (plus 70 years). If they were lost, misplaced or damaged, they obviously can't be used as your proof of your copyright. Lastly, if there was an copyright infringement case to resolve, once you open the envelope it can't be used as proof in the future as the envelope is no longer sealed. If you had multiple copyright infringements over time, you would need to send yourself several envelopes to protect yourself against this. This isn't a practical nor efficient way to protect the copyright of your book.
Copyright protection for your book online can save you significant time and stress if there was an infringement but also act as strong copyright deterrent against copyright theft in the first place.
Copyrighting your creative work with a copyright office like Protect My Work is quick and easy. Just register an account for £36.99 (ex. VAT) per year and you can upload as many literary works as you write. Simply buy "tokens" for £1 (ex. VAT) each, pay-as-you-go, You need one token to upload a set of work (up to five separate attachments, so you can upload previous drafts of your book as the work progressed).
Once you've added your book to your account, you receive a unique reference number to your email address, a digital certificate as proof of your copyright with all the required details included such as your name, pen name or business name and of course, the date and time the work was registered. You'll be able to quickly share this proof with a third-party such as as a publisher or add it in the cover page of the book to make everyone aware your work is copyrighted and you have protected your legal rights.
Needless to say, this proof can be a safe a lot of stress and be a huge time saver, should you need to prove your copyright to a third party, as you'll be able to clearly show the evidence required, which could be vital if you need to serve a takedown notice or to file a small claims court action.
Lastly, having a central digital hub of all your literary work means you can manage everything in one place in an organised and searchable format.
Finally, it's important to know how long the copyright of your work lasts for because it's not forever. For any literary works written these days, the law provides that the copyright is the intellectual property of the author for their lifetime, plus 70 years.