How to Protect Your Work Through Copyright

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© Stuart Miles

Rudy Dees

Editor @ GoneWithTheWord

Copyright is your sole right of ownership for the work created and your right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part of your work. It is a form of legal protection of the artists’ creative works (Title 17, U.S. Code, United States and the Copyright Act, R.S.C, 1985, c. C-42, in Canada). Artistic work includes paintings, drawings, maps, charts, plans, photographs, engravings, sculptures, and works of artistic craftsmanship, architectural works and compilations of artistic works. This protection is given to both published and unpublished works and gives the owner the exclusive right to do and authorize the following:

  • Reproduce the work in copies,
  • Prepare derivative works,
  • Distribute the work to the public for sale, transfer of ownership, rental, or lease,
  • Perform the work in public, and
  • Display the work in public.

When registering copyright in your home country you should receive proof of ownership to help you in the event of piracy or plagiarism of your work. Keep in mind, that if any lawsuits are filed, the hearing and litigation will take place in the courts of the country where the copyright was registered.

Self-publishers must have a clear understanding with any freelance editors, formatters, cover artists, etc., as to who owns the copyright to each aspect of the final book or product. For example, this web site was created by a third party and thus, through a Designer Contract, the designer owns the copyright of the code and GoneWithTheWord owns the website.

The Canadian Copyright and Fair Dealing Guideline  (2013) in education for print includes the non-profit use and right to communicate and reproduce a single copy of a short excerpt in a print or electronic format for each student for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody, or satire. This includes up to 10 percent of the copyright-protected work. This means:

  • Book: one chapter
  • Journal or magazine: one article
  • Newspaper: one entire article or page
  • Artistic works: one entire work
  • Poem or musical score: one single poem or musical score from an anthology
  • Reference works: one entry

Copying multiple excerpts for the same work is prohibited, and you must always reference/cite your source.

Be aware—if you create your art at your place of employment, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, your employer will be the first owner of the copyright. Thus, if you write your manuscript at work, the employer will own the copyright.

The Notice of Copyright should declare your copyright ownership on the copyright page of your book. The standard form is Copyright © YEAR by Author Name. You should also add All Rights Reserved, to state that you do not grant the reader any rights beyond what is included in your country’s copyright laws. This includes quoting a line from the book or using a short excerpt for promotional or even educational use.

Visit your country’s statutes on copyright law and protect your work.

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