How To Copyright An Ebook—6 Easy Steps To Protect Your Literary Work

Ebook piracy is a common problem in today’s online publishing world. As such, it’s wise to learn how to copyright an ebook. 

Self-publishing authors can benefit from learning about copyright laws because they don’t have the support of a traditional publishing house to take care of intellectual property law for them. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the simple steps required to copyright your work. We’ll also examine why it’s so crucial to copyright.

Why copyright?

Writers, companies, and other artists of the written word have their work illegally stolen or distributed and lose a lot of money. That’s why copyrighting your work is so important. 

It prevents your work from being stolen and protects your rights if someone decides to distribute it illegally.

Copyrighting, in essence, means taking advantage of national and international laws to which you’re entitled to use, offering protection and legal opportunities to make sure that your work is safe and protected.

To copyright an eBook, you must register your work with a relevant government agency (typically known as the copyright office) in your country. These agencies usually require a copy of the ebook and a relatively small fee. 

In the U.S., the fee is $45. Ebooks are entitled to the same copyright protection as standard physical books. In other words, copyright law applies to digital works just as much as traditional ones.

Copyright page template

Below is a standard copyright page template. You can use this or a slight alteration to inform the public that intellectual property laws apply to your work.

“All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and specific other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

While all attempts have been made to verify the information provided in this publication, neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations of the subject matter herein.

Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including international, federal, state, and local governing professional licensing, business practices, advertising, and all other aspects of doing business in the US, Canada, or any other jurisdiction, is the sole responsibility of the purchaser or reader.

Any perceived slight of any individual or organization is purely unintentional.”

How to copyright an ebook: A step-by-step guide

Copyrighting a book is relatively simple once you follow a few basic steps. 

How To Copyright An Ebook

Step 1: U.S. Copyright Office

First things first, visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s main registration webpage. You can find it at copyright.gov/registrations

Step 2: Select your category

If you want to copyright a book, poetry, manuscript, or other forms of the written word, then you need to select the ‘Literary Works’ category. 

This should be the first option in their category list. Literary works, according to the copyright office, include:

‘Works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied.”

Note that music, including song lyrics, stage plays, and scripts, does not fall under literary works but instead under ‘Performing Arts.’

When you see the ‘Literary Works’ category, hit ‘Learn more.’ Once you get to the Literary Works Page, click on ‘Register a Literary Work’ on the left-hand side.

Step 3: Sign in or register

Next, you should find yourself on the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) page. 

Here you will be prompted to sign in to your account. If you already have an account, simply fill in your details and continue. 

If you are not yet registered with eCO, follow the link, ‘If you are a new user, click here to register.’

If you register a new account, enter the requested information (Personal Title, Name, Email) followed by your desired username and password.

Some authors write under a pen name so that this stage may confuse them. Do you use your pen name? Or your real name? 

At this point in the process, you can use your real name if you so wish and apply your pen name later. You can also use your pen name at this point with no legal implications.

Step 4: Begin the process

Now that you’ve registered or signed into your account, it’s time to begin copyright registration. Under the ‘Copyright Registration’ tab, select ‘Register One Work by One Author.’ Next, you should find the $45 registration fee.

Given that the process involves your financial details, it’s best to follow the site’s advice, which tells users to use the Firefox browser. The site tends to fail on other browsers. So, keep your money and details safe by following their advice.

Once you’ve selected the one book, one author option, read the following text and then hit ‘Start Registration.’

Step 5: Fill in the required details

Now it’s time to enter the details of your book. This includes the type of work, title, publication/completion, and author/claimant. After each stage of the process, hit ‘continue.’ 

Having filed all the relevant and required details, review your submission, then click ‘Add to Cart.’ From here, you’ll be taken to the payment page.

Step 6: Submit your work

The final stage of this process is to submit a copy of your work to the Copyright Office. If you also have a paperback edition, you will need to submit that, but if it is just an ebook, then a digital copy alone is enough.

Do I need to copyright my book?

According to copyright.gov, ‘Your book is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.’

The copyright to an eBook belongs to the author from the moment the work is produced. Whether a digital work has been registered with a government body, any digital creation in a fixed form is automatically copyrighted.

Such is the case in many jurisdictions, but it’s worth conducting a brief internet search for your jurisdiction, mainly to ensure. 

Only the author is the copyright owner and all benefits linked with it unless the author formally transfers rights to a third party.

The digital document is made public by registering and applying for copyright protection. Public record papers have legal benefits, such as the ability to pursue legal action.

If a digital work is copyrighted and intended for publication, the copyright registration is proof of its legitimacy. 

If your copyright is breached, you are usually entitled to statutory damages and attorney fees as the author of the eBook. 

However, if the registration is delayed, you could only be able to file a lawsuit for lost profits and other monetary issues as a result of the infringement.

How To Copyright An Ebook

FAQ

How to copyright words?

You cannot copyright a single word or short phrase. The best way to copyright a word or short phrase is through a brand or as a secondary copyright process following an existing copyrighted work of fiction or other literary work.

What is copyright infringement?

According to copyright.gov, copyright infringement refers to instances when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.’

Where is the copyright page?

Once your ebook has attained copyright protection, a page in the published document known as the copyright page will inform readers as to the copyright status of the work, including the copyright symbol, date of copyright, and the copyright owner (also known as the copyright holder). 

This information is known as the copyright notice. The copyright page is typically found on the back of the book’s title page.

Conclusion

The information provided in this article is not intended for use as a substitute for official legal counsel. These laws are subject to change per the decision of the relevant government body in your country, so conduct more in-depth research before making any legal commitments.

Moving forward, knowing how to copyright a book and following the simple step by the process outlined in this article, you can attain a greater sense of security around any work you choose to publish. 

As a self-publishing author, it’s wise to research copyright laws regarding ebook publishing. Doing so can help you find an effective solution if you discover that your work has been stolen or illegally distributed.

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