The creator of a “work” that contains original expressions is the author. The author is automatically the copyright owner unless a written agreement changes that.
To copyright the book means to get a type of protection afforded by the federal government to creators of certain types of intellectual property. You do not have to register a work to be protected by copyright law. When you create a literary work, piece of music, play, film, or artwork or architectural concept, you can copyright it simply by using the familiar ©, with your name and the year. For a bound book you can use that symbol or the word “Copyright” on a title page, but in a manuscript or loose-leaf work, it is often placed at the bottom of every page.
The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute that work or create derivative works based on the original material. You can’t copyright an idea as such, only the visual, tangible representation of that idea, such as a book.
You can’t copyright a book title, although you might be able to trademark it if you coin a term in the title. For instance, there are probably hundreds of books entitled Trees, and you could not prevent anyone from using the same commonly used words you probably use in your title.
In the US, current copyright law bestows copyright protection from the moment of creation through the creator or author’s life plus seventy years. To get full protection and be able to sue for copyright infringement, in some countries, you do need to register that copyright with the government’s copyright office.
Many countries recognize the intellectual property protection afforded by the copyrights of countries that provide them, although others do not. The Berne Convention is the document recognized by most of the countries of the United Nations (UN) that governs what is protected. The World intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the agency of the UN that was created to ensure copyright cooperation in member nations.
Neither Australia nor the UK has a governmental copyright registration process. They recognize copyright protection without the step of registration and maintain that copyright is created the moment the material is created.
Register the Copyright – US
To register your copyright, see the U.S. government Web site at www.copyright.gov. You can apply on line, for $35, and take advantage of faster processing time.
You can also register it via mail for $45. Send the following in one package: A completed application (use Short Form TX) found on the Web site under Copyright Registration: Literary Works.
The author has three months from the time of printing to apply for copyright registration, but your registration becomes effective on the day that the Copyright Office receives your application, payment, and book in acceptable form. It will take from 4 to 6 months to receive a certificate of registration. Because the Copyright form is somewhat complex you may wish to have it processed for you and checked by an expert on line. Legal Zoom (http://www.legalzoom.com) will do that for you for $149, including the filing fee.
Watch a Slidecast
Download material for your notebook