How To Copyright a Book

Copyright Protection How To Copyright a Book

Writing the Next Big Hit? Learn How To Copyright a Book and Keep the Pirates at Bay!

If you are about to publish a book, especially if you are a self-published author, understanding how the copyright works is crucial. 

Not having a publishing house to guide you through the process and complete all the technicalities can make the copyright procedure rather challenging.

The question is, how to protect your content? Do you need to register a copyright, and where to do it? What happens if someone steals your work?


What is Copyright?

The good news is, you own the rights to your book from the moment you write it without having to do anything. Authors usually add a standard copyright notice to their work, but that is not obligatory. 

According to the U.S. copyright laws, your work is copyrighted automatically, and that copyright protection lasts from the moment you create your content up to 70 years after your death. 

If you publish your book on the internet, you can also rely on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects creative works online.

This means that you, as an author, are the only one who owns your work and that others can’t replicate or sell it without your consent. 

More explicitly, the copyright states that you are the only one allowed to:

  1. Make copies of your book and distribute them
  2. Create a derivative work—sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and any other work based on your book
  3. Display your work publicly

If writers have these rights from the moment their work is put on paper (or screen), why do they often register the copyright to their work? Why choose an option that costs money when you have free protection?

Should You Register a Copyright for a Book?

Copyright infringement cases are not rare, and while you may find a copy/paste version of your book in a random bookstore, it’s more likely you will find a book with the same story but in a different setting or with a slightly changed plotline.

It’s also possible you’ll find a digital copy of your book available for download on a random website. 

In case you find yourself in such a predicament, how do you prove you are the original author?

You need proof of ownership if you want to report copyright infringement, and registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office helps. Sometimes, your publishing house will do this in your name, and there is no need to register a book before publishing it

Once you or the publisher complete the registration, your ownership is a public record, and if someone makes a copyright infringement, you have the right to sue them.

Without registering your book with the U.S. Copyright Office, you cannot file a lawsuit against anyone for stealing your intellectual property. 

How To Register Copyright for a Book With the U.S. Copyright Office 

You have two options to register your book with the U.S. Copyright Office—online or via post. Regardless of the method, you may still have to submit a hard-copy of your work. 

You can check whether you need to submit a hard copy or a digital one in the following table:

You Should Send…
…Digital Copy …Hard Copy
  • For unpublished books
  • Books published only in digital form
  • Books published in digital form abroad before being published in the U.S.
  • When registering up to 10 unpublished works
  • When your book is already published in the U.S. in the physical form, or both in physical and digital form (a book and a pdf)
  • For books published in physical form abroad before being published in the U.S.

By registering your book, you have a right to sue any bookstore or individual who copies and sells your books without permission. 

How Do You Copyright a Book on the U.S. Copyright Office Website?

Follow these steps to register a copyright for your book online:

  1. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office website
  2. Click on the Register tab
  3. Scroll down and select Literary Works
  4. Click on Register a Literary Work
  5. Create an account with the U.S. Copyright Office or Log in to your existing one
  6. Click on Copyright Registration on the left
  7. Select Register a New Claim
  8. Click on the Start Registration button
  9. Fill out the form.
  10. Pay the registration fee 
  11. Send a digital or a hard copy of your work—depending on what the requirements are

How Do I Register My Copyright via Post?

You can also submit your copyright application via post by sending it to 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, United States.

When sending you application, make sure to include:

  1. A printed version of the application
  2. A copy of your work
  3. The filing fee of $85

What To Do if Someone Uploads Your Work Online?

If you encounter a pirated version of your book on any website, you are covered by the DMCA protection mechanism and its most powerful tool, the DMCA copyright notice. 

The DMCA copyright infringement notice gives you a simple way to get your content taken down from a website that doesn’t have your permission to use it. 

You don’t have to deal with the website owner as you only need to send the DMCA takedown notice to the ISP hosting that site.

Some corporate platforms have their methods of dealing with stolen content—Amazon has a copyright infringement policy for everything on their website. 

In most cases, you would have to draft the takedown notice yourself, and there is no official form to do that. 

Every takedown notice should explain who you are and why you are sending the notice. You would also need to include the proof of the copyright, good-faith statement, and perjury statement. You should sign the statement and provide personal and contact info. 

The simpler way to do this is to file a DMCA notice with DoNotPay. 

How To Create and Send a DMCA Notice With DoNotPay

A high-quality takedown notice needs to include particular sections that may require assistance from a legal expert or a robot lawyer app.

DoNotPay is the first virtual lawyer in the world, granted with the American Bar Association Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, and will make the copyright registration process simple. 

Here is how to file a DMCA notice with our app:

  1. Open DoNotPay in your web browser
  2. Tap the DMCA Takedown feature
  3. Type in the title of your book
  4. Paste the link to the website hosting your content without permission
  5. Paste the link to the website where you posted the content originally

Once you complete the remaining steps, you can check your results in the My Disputes tab. 

DoNotPay Can Do More Than Teach You How To Copyright a Book

You will encounter more than one administrative conundrum in the process of publishing a book, and even after that. DoNotPay can clarify this process, provide you with relevant info, and give you the tools you need to keep your work safe. 

If your book includes visuals, you may want to know how to copyright artwork or what are image copyright laws.

In case you plan to promote your book on social media, you may want to get acquainted with Facebook and Instagram copyright rules, as well as how YouTube deals with copyright claims and copyright strikes

DoNotPay can help in other areas as well. Sign in to your account from your web browser and check how we can help you with: