Copyright Laws and Self-Published Authors

copyright for authors

Last week I was delighted to be the first purchaser of the print version of a brand new self-published book, A Baker’s Dozen.  It was written and published by Eleanor Cawood Jones. In chatting with Eleanor at the SIPA conference in Miami, it reminded me that self-publishing an ebook or print book involves so much more than writing. Self-published authors write, edit, promote, and deal with potential legal issues including libel, privacy, personality rights and intellectual property (IP.)

IP issues in self-publishing e-books and print books include:

  • creating wording for a copyright notice
  • registering the book with a national copyright office such as the U.S. Copyright Office
  • determining ownership of cover artwork
  • clearing the rights for the inclusion of content owned by others including images, tables and excerpts from other works
  • including trademarks in the book
  • dealing with permissions when others want to use portions of the book
  • monitoring unauthorized uses of the book
  • enforcing rights for any unauthorized uses of the book or a substantial part of it

Share your copyright concerns

Are you a self-published author or plan to be one in 2013? Will you use a standard copyright notice or create a specially worded one? Are you planning on using a Creative Commons license or will you be carefully monitoring unauthorized uses of your book (or perhaps both?) What other copyright issues concern you in publishing your book?

5 Comments

  1. Lesley says:

    Thanks Amber, click here for the response.

  2. Amber says:

    Hello, if I wrote a book starting in 2011, finished in 2012, but won’t be able to (self) publish until January 2nd, 2013, do I have to change my copyright from 2012 to 2013? I would like to keep it as 2012 since I technically finished in 2012, I just won’t be able to officially get it out there until after the new year starts so am curious if I have to change my copyright year.

  3. Lesley says:

    Hi Robert, as an addendum to my earlier reply, I just came across this information about the use of a trademark in a self-published book. See http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/26/amazon-pulls-self-published-memoir-about-star-wars-because-it-references-star-wars/. I am surprised by this story and urge you and others to keep an eye on further developments of it, and see whether and when the book is again offered by Amazon.

  4. Lesley says:

    Hi Robert, I am not a trademark expert but the general rule is that using a trademark is fine if it does not confuse the trademark with the source of that mark.

  5. Robert L. says:

    Reading Ms. Jones’ book, which I bought myself this week and really enjoyed, I was reminded that as a self-published writer myself, I’ve always been fuzzy when it comes to the necessity of attributing credit when I make simple references to products. For example, if I write that a character is eating a Milky Way, what sort of clearance and/or credit do I have to give/obtain? It seems irritating to me that we should have to be careful of making reference to products that exist in the public marketplace–do I really have anything to worry about if I don’t follow the letter of the law in this regard?

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