The Book Business: Copyrights

lady justice and a gavel Photo by EKATERINA  BOLOVTSOVA on

Hello Readers,

Welcome back! Or, thank you for joining us if this is the first post you are seeing. This is the third post of a multi-part series. The previous post was the The Book Business: ISBNs and Imprints. Don’t worry, though, if you haven’t read the previous posts – you can catch up later.

What is a copyright?

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. In copyright law, there are a lot of different types of works, including paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, and so much more!

photo of multicolored abstract painting

When you create a piece of art, you own that piece of art. It’s yours. The pictures you see in this article? They are owned by photographers and artists who allow commercial use of their pictures through

No one can take your art and claim it as their own, assuming you can prove that it was your idea to begin with. That said, the tricky bit comes down to when you need to protect your rights over your work.


In case it wasn’t clear, I’m not a lawyer so I can’t give you legal advice. Nothing in this article is meant to be construed as legal advice either. If you need help with copyright infringement, call a lawyer.

Okay, moving on.

If you find yourself needing to go to court for copyright infringement, this is where copyright registration becomes required. If you didn’t register your work prior to the infringement claim, you may not even be able to file a lawsuit depending on the time of offense.

To be more specific, as the creator of your work (and thereby the copyright owner), you can:

  1. Reproduce and distribute your work
  2. Perform or recite your work publicly
  3. Create derivative works based on the original work

No one else is allowed to do that unless you grant them the rights to do so. Can you perform your work without applying for a copyright license from the government? Yes. You sure can. Registration is absolutely not required.

What can’t you do if you don’t have the copyright license? Protect your work from other people doing those things.

Things have changed.

It used to be that you could file an infringement case and as long as you could prove that the work was your own, the case would move forward. But, in recent years, the United States Supreme Court set a precedent that copyright registration is required for an infringement case to move forward. There’s a lot more to this, so I refer to you this other article if you would like to read more:

The main point I would make here is this: would you rather file to claim your copyright before infringement is a problem or after?

fashion hand hurry outfit

I vote to do it before. Since we knew that we absolutely wanted to get our books out into the public, we have opted to file for copyright for every work prior to publication. As of the time of this post, we are still waiting for copyright assignment for our initial set of works.

Wrapping Up

This section was short because there isn’t much to say about copyright. You own your work but you need to pay this fee if you want to protect your work in the courts. Is it worth it?

If your work is unpublished, you can submit multiple works as a group of unpublished works for an $85 fee. The works must be by the same author and be of the same type. For a single, standard application, the fee is $65 (as of the time this blog was published in 2023.)

Whether it is worth paying this fee depends on your goals. We don’t expect anyone to copy our work but we’re also unwilling to take that risk. Registering for copyright is a minor hassle compared to the headache of a copyright infringement case.

Thanks for reading this week and stay tuned for our next post in the series where we will talk about the distribution process! Follow us here, on Facebook, or LinkedIn to make sure you get notified as these posts are released.


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