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Protecting your book under copyright law can be quite quick and simple.  Additionally, with so many online copyright registries, it’s has also become much more affordable than in the past.

Step 1: Ensure Your Book is the subject of Copyright
Before trying to protect your book under copyright law, you must first establish whether your work falls under a category that copyright protects.  In the case of a book it would fall under “Literary Works” because it is a nondramatic textual work expressed with words, numbers, or symbols and may or may not contain illustrations.  For more information about Literary Works, click here.

Step 2: To Copyright Books, Keep them Original
For you work to be original, it must not be copied from someone else.  This doesn’t mean your book cannot be based on someone else’s work, or that it can’t be a derivative work, as both of these are allowed under copyright law.  However, the work must contain some element of originality.  In other words, if you were to create a compilation of recipes, the order and the types of recipes you selected required originality, and therefore, would be protectable under copyright law.  The actual listing of ingredients is not protected by copyright law, however, the detailed expression of the methods, directions, tips, and suggestions for serving would be.
With regards to other types of books, the story line doesn’t have to be original; however, the actual expression (the actual words and sentences) of the story must be yours and not copied.  In other words, there could be two thousand books about online copyright registration (a general topic); however, each one can own the copyright to their specific expression of their book.

Step 3: Copyright Your Book by Creating a Fixed Form
Now that you know you book qualifies for protection under copyright law, you need to put it in a form that will allow for the protection.  In order to qualify as a literary work under copyright law, the book must be put in a fixed form. To create a ‘fixed form’ of your book, you simply have to write it on paper or save it on your hard drive.  In other words, once you have created a tangible form of your work, it would be considered ‘fixed’.

Step 4: Decide where to Register your Book
Once you complete the three steps outlined above, your work will be automatically protected under copyright law.  However, it could be very difficult to prove you are the original creator of the book if infringement occurs. As such, many authors choose to take one step further than ‘automatic protection’ and they register their books.
Note: US citizens can register their book with any copyright registry; however, if they want to take their claim to court, they will have to register with the US Copyright Office.  This does not apply to non-US citizens.  Having said this, most copyright infringement cases do not go to court, as the infringing party is willing to settle once they see the evidence provided from the registration.
To choose a copyright registry, simply type in ‘protect copyright’ into a search engine and you can choose amongst the many that appear.
Ensure the registry you choose does not have any hidden costs and will protect your book for the life of copyright (50-70 years).

Disclaimer: The above is meant as a general guide to further your copyright knowledge and does not constitute legal advice.  For questions about your specific work, you should consult a copyright lawyer in your country.

Justine Shoolman is the Co-Founder of Copyright Creators (www.copyrightcreators.com), a service inspired by the shortfalls of ‘poor man’s copyright’.  Copyright Creators protects copyright for life with no membership or renewal fees.  Visit Copyright Creators today and you’ll receive 4 free registrations to protect & create proof of your copyright online.

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