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  1. #1

    Cool Legal question about copyrights...

    Now that my book is almost done, I'm starting to research publication. If I'm sending my manuscript out to publishers, do I need to get it copyrighted myself?

    Thanks...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC
    You can, but it's not necessary to. Just mail yourself a copy and keep it unopened so the postmark will let you know when it was created, and then send it to a publisher.

    I'm not entirely sure of copyright law, but techinically, your manuscript is copyrighted the moment you created it. Getting a copyright for it will help you try to recover some money for it, but it is unlikely you will recover any monetary damages for an unpublished manuscript.
    Check out the DBR Podcast!

    2003-2004 HLM
    Duke | Mirecourt | Detroit| The U | USA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Technically, when you wrote it, it is copyrighted (caveat--I'm not a lawyer, but I've written several books, patented a game, and have an excellent copyright attorney who specializes in this kind of stuff). I always put a footer in my manuscript with the copyright symbol and date and name before I send it out. Mail yourself a copy (keep it sealed and the postmark intact) in case you need to go to court. There is a copyright application form on the web, but if you find someone who buys the rights to your book, they will put the copyright in their name. If I remember correctly, the big difference is that if you have filed with the USCopyright office and you have to sue, you can recover court costs. Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    ← Bay / Valley ↓
    Quote Originally Posted by blazindw View Post
    You can, but it's not necessary to. Just mail yourself a copy and keep it unopened so the postmark will let you know when it was created, and then send it to a publisher.
    I can't cite any sources, but in my Intellectual Properties class at Duke, we were told that this is not a fool-proof way, and not recommended. also, IANAL

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Emerald Isle, NC
    I used to be married to an intellectual property lawyer and he said mailing your manuscript to yourself and not opening would not hold up in court. I think the best thing you can do is talk to an IP attorney before you speak with any publishers.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Quote Originally Posted by hc5duke View Post
    I can't cite any sources, but in my Intellectual Properties class at Duke, we were told that this is not a fool-proof way, and not recommended. also, IANAL
    That's interesting, because I learned the exact opposite in law school. Granted, my IP experience is limited, and I'm sure there are copyright attorneys who could advise a much better way (short of filing a copyright application, that is).
    Check out the DBR Podcast!

    2003-2004 HLM
    Duke | Mirecourt | Detroit| The U | USA

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by blazindw View Post
    That's interesting, because I learned the exact opposite in law school. Granted, my IP experience is limited, and I'm sure there are copyright attorneys who could advise a much better way (short of filing a copyright application, that is).
    For $35 you can make an electronic filing and protect yourself. Forms and info here.

  8. #8
    It was copyrighted the moment you wrote it. If someone violates the copright, however, you're only entitled to money damages if you have registered. Otherwise, you can only get an injunction against someone using it.

    Typically, writers do not take the step of copyrighting their work before submitting to publishers. Any publisher who stole work from a writer would soon find itself without any new submissions and be out of business.

    If you feel the need to take the step to protect yourself, then do so. I might suggest not making a big deal of it in your submission, though.

  9. #9
    Thanks so much for all the great advice from all of you!

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