You always see that copyright warning when you pop your favorite movie into your DVD player. “Piracy is a crime!” it says. But as a writer, what does copyright have to do with you? Manuscripts have to be copyrighted too, not just movies and music. You wouldn’t want someone else taking credit for your hard work, right? Copyright infringement has always been a scary phrase. But what is copyright infringement? Copyright infringement is the use of copyrighted works without permission from the creator or the one who holds the rights to that particular work. It is important to understand your rights once you acquire the copyright to your manuscript.
According to the official U.S. government website with information on copyrighting, (http://www.copyright.gov), once you copyright your manuscript, you have exclusive rights over it. You are the one who gets to decide if your work can be reproduced in copies or if derivative works based on your book can be prepared. You are also in charge of who can distribute copies of your work to the public through sales and who can read/perform your work publicly. If anyone is caught violating these rights, they are committing copyright infringement. You can sue anyone claiming your work to be their own as long as you have the copyright documents proving that you created your manuscript.
What Is Copyright Infringement and What Is It Not?
An example of copyright infringement would be someone taking your manuscript and selling it off as their own writing. Another form of copyright infringement would be copying a well-known and established book’s title like The Color Purple or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. However, using a title that just happens to be the same as an unknown novel is not copyright infringement. For more information on what is copyright infringement, what your rights are, and making sure you are not in violation of copyright laws, visit http://www.copyright.gov.
NEXT: What Should Be Included On Your Book Copyright Page?