Copyright: Yae or Nae

Hello, SEers! Mae here, tossing out a question about copyright. Do you, or don’t you?

copyright symbolWe 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 Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.”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!

bio box for author Mae Clair



47 thoughts on “Copyright: Yae or Nae

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  3. Great post, Mae. I haven’t done anything official for my work. I use the copyright symbol when sharing, posting, and selling prints of my poems. I read somewhere that this is fine and should cover me. I probably should research this again, though! Thanks for sharing, as always. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The copyright symbol will cover you, Natalie. It comes down to if someone WOULD steal your work and you have to PROVE copyright/ownership, that’s where registration comes into play. Many authors don’t worry about it. I just like the extra step given all the work I’ve put into creating something. Of course, as someone else mentioned, that still doesn’t stop the pirates!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting to see many authors who do copyright. I also copyright all my books. Here in Canada it costs $50 for copyright and it just feels right for me to copyright my work. Of course it doesn’t stop pirates from illegally downloading. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

      • A copyright is only $35 in the US, but ISBNs can be expensive. My publisher takes care of that for me, and for indie releases I use an AISN because I only publish on Amazon. I know some authors will buy ISBNs in blocks of ten and then it is a little more affordable. It’s great yours are free!


  5. Good post Mae. The mailing ploy has no legal value at all. Marking something copyrighted does. Proving it without registering means that you have development content. Registering means you get legal standing that is easy to prove. I have read by one author that they did not register their work and a competitor tried to jam them up by trying to claim a copyright violation with Amazon. The author had to prove copyright to Amazon. I’m in on registering my work for the extra, easy proof. If’s not that expensive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you, P.H. For as little as it costs, it’s well worth it to have legal proof of ownership. Your example of the author who had to prove copyright to Amazon is just one reason why it’s a benefit. I want that extra protection!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I know my publishers do it. I never considered it for myself because I never thought anyone would bother stealing from me. (They’d have to know I exist first.) It’s probably worth reconsidering. I didn’t realize it was so affordable.

    I’m more concerned about my work being put online for free. I wouldn’t think I’m well-known enough for that, either, but I get Google alerts about it all the time. I used to fight it, but always to no avail. I’ve given up at this point. Maybe someone who steals one of my books will leave a review or buy another one. (A girl can dream, right?)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Having a copyright helps when you go after the pirate sites. It’s still a constant battle but legal proof of ownership does seem to help. Publishing houses have specific people who fight pirates as a matter of routine, issuing pull down orders. It’s ridiculous what we have to go through as authors to protect ourselves. As affordable as copyright is, I’m definitely in the camp of doing it!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I always copyright because you never know what could happen. I remember being told stories of authors submitting to agents and publishers to get a rejection. A few months or years later, they end up discovering their book being put out by another author from that company. Never really knew if this was true, but it made me believe that a copyright is at least some protection.

    Liked by 2 people

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