Copyrights Tips

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Who owns the copyright to my ghostwritten book?

Do You Copy?

Ghostwriting is usually done as 'work for hire'. That means that the ghostwriter signs a contract to supply writing services to a buyer. The buyer owns the copyright and the buyer's name will usually appear as the author of the book. The buyer will also receive all royalties from the book. Some people share the credit with ghostwriters. In those cases, the author's name would appear as follows: [buyer's name] with [ghostwriter's name] or [buyer's name] as told to [ghostwriter's name]. When credit is shared, ghostwriters will also share the copyright and will receive some royalties for the book.

What are the advantages of officially registering my copyright?

Reasons for Registering the Copyright

Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim. The U.S. Government's copyright web site notes: "Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin. If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner. Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies."

*There are many reasons for officially registering the copyright when you self publish a book. It simply is another protection of your rights.

Where does the copyright page appear, and what information appears on it?

Book Copyright Placement

The book copyright page is usually found on the back of the title page. Most copyright notices includes the word "copyright," the symbol"", the year, and the author's name. You don't need both the word "copyright" and the symbol. Either will do, however, just about every publisher uses both, so it makes sense for anyone self publishing books to do the same. Here's an example: Copyright 2004 Ron Pramschufer.

Where do I find the copyright symbol on my computer?

The Copyright Symbol

Every good word processor today gives you access to important characters that do not appear on the keyboard—they are called ANSI and ASCII character sets. Now, here's a handy tip when you self publish a book. To get the (copyright symbol) character:

  • Make sure the "Num Lock" key on the right-hand side of your PC is on
  • Use those numbers (the numbers at the top of the keyboard will not work)
  • Hold down the "Alt" key and press 0169
  • When you release the "Alt" key, the copyright symbol will appear where your cursor is

How is my book copyrighted?

More on Book Copyrights

By law, you automatically own the book copyrights to any work you have created. It is a good idea, though, to have a book copyright notice on the back of your title page. A copyright notice should include the letter "c" in a circle or the word "copyright," the year of publication, and the owner of the copyright. Also include the statement: "All rights reserved." Within three months of self publishing a book, you may also register the copyright, establishing a public record of your claim.

Do I need to register my book with the US Copyright office?

Is Copyright Registration Necessary?

When you self publish a book, the law grants you book copyright protection automatically upon the creation of your work. Your work need not be completed to be protected! You own the copyright on your work as you create it. No publication, registration or other action in the U.S. Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. See for additional information on copyright registration.

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William Pirraglia