Most writers think that once your book is written, published, and the copyright is established that your concerns about copyrights are done. You don’t have to worry about it. That isn’t necessarily true in the multimedia world we live in today. In this the first of several posts about copyrights, I’d like to provide a few tips to writers that will help you keep track of what’s going on with your books after they are out there in the world.
First, set up Google alerts for the title of your book and your name or the name you use as the author of the book. Do this for each of your books. Have Google alerts notify you daily. If someone publishes your book title (which by the way you cannot restrict), then you can find out if they have just used the same title or infringed on your story line. It will also reveal whether or not your book has been pirated and is being distributed without your authorization.
Second, for indie authors, be sure to file a hard copy or e-book copy with the U.S. Copyright Office of your book after you publish it. Even though your publish date establishes when you published it, if you had to go to court in a copyright dispute the date it is filed with the Federal Copyright Office is the one that the courts will refer to.
Third, be aware that even though it is common practice to send manuscripts via email attachments to agents, publishes, and editors that sometimes the document can be picked up by third parties who are professionals at hacking. They can pirate your work. Be careful.
Fourth, find an attorney in your area who knows copyright law and at least the basics of the publishing industry. You don’t have to keep him on retainer, which of course isn’t practical for most writers. However, know who he or she is. Invite her to speak to your writers’ group about copyright issues. Ask them for help when you need it.
Protect your intellectual rights.