Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WHAT WRITERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COPYRIGHTS (FAQS) BY BRIAN KLEMS – FROM 2009 #blogjack #copyright

We’re back today with Brian Klems ….  Rita

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How Do I Copyright My Manuscript?
Q: I recently finished a novel and want to know what I can do to have it copyrighted. Is there a special process? –Sylvia R.
A: Whenever you put something in a tangible format—written on paper, typed on computer, chiseled on stone tablets—it’s copyrighted and protected under U.S. copyright law. No tricks. No magic. It’s as simple as that.
Of course, if someone steals your work and presents it as his own, the burden of proof falls on you to show that you created it first (and own the copyright). This, as you can imagine, can be tricky. To give yourself better protection you can also officially register your work with the United States Copyright Office. The downside is it’ll cost you roughly $35-45 per manuscript. The upside is that if anyone steals your work, you’ll not only have proof of copyright ownership, but also be able to sue for more money and damages.
Now I’m not suggesting you officially register every story you’ve ever written, as that can get costly—that decision is up to you. But it’s certainly worth considering for any manuscript of great length and value to you.
Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine

Can You Copyright a Pseudonym?

Q: Do I need to get a copyright for a pseudonym, or will a copyright for the book under my chosen pen name be sufficient?—Al de Araujo

A: The name H.G. Wells isn’t copyrighted. Neither is Michael Crichton. Why? Under U.S. law you can’t copyright a name, real or fictitious. Copyrights protect authorship, such as short stories, poems or novels.
You can register a manuscript under a pen name at the copyright office ( www.copyright.gov ). You’ll have to provide some information, including your real address. But if you really want to keep your true identity under wraps, set up a post office box and have information from the office sent there.
It’s important to get your pen name on record so the Copyright Office can acknowledge the proper life span of the copyright. Work created by authors not identified by the Copyright Office have a copyright life of only 95 years from publication or 120 years from the work’s creation—whichever comes first. If a writer identifies herself to the copyright office and registers her pen name, the copyright term for the work is the author’s life plus 70 years. Which means if I get hit by a bus tomorrow my work is still protected until 2078.
It’s also important to check with the office first and do online searches to avoid using names of real people or names that have already been taken by other authors. While you can’t copyright a name, you can get sued for identity theft. Also, publishers can get pretty angry if you try to pass yourself off as someone famous like J.K. Rowling or Dean Koontz. Stick with something unique.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine

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