Chris A. Baird | October 21, 2020
Are Self Published Books Copyrighted?

Traditionally published books are copyrighted by publishing companies. So, are self published books copyrighted as well? Find out more about self-publishing and how to go about owning the rights to your self-published books.

Today's question has three answers and you are going to want to stick around for the third answer. Because it's a secret as to why you can waste an awful lot of time worrying about copyright when it comes to your books.

So, the question that was sent in today was, are self published books copyrighted? This is an excellent question that many people are wondering. You've written a book and you are wondering what if somebody tried to steal that manuscript and use it for themselves?

Maybe you need to file the book with somebody or an agency to ensure that your book is in fact copyrighted. By the end of this article, you are going to know what exactly and how copyright works when it comes to your self-published books.

You're going to have information to protect your books from being stolen. You're going to feel great that you aren't wasting any time when it comes to copyrighting actions there.

But before we get into the answers, check out my absolutely free Self-Publishing Checklist. It will help you get started on your self-publishing journey today.

So, are self published books copyrighted? I've been in a large number of forums over the years. My friend Jerry in Wyoming had a specific problem that he posted in one of the Facebook groups that I was a part of regarding self-publishing.

The thing is that one of his competitors for the same niche that he was in filed a copyright claim against him, told Amazon he had stolen their work. So, a claim was made against him and it was immediately sent to him from Amazon.

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It was probably auto-generated by a computer and say, "hey a claim is against you. You need to decide what you're going to do here. Whether or not you need to pull down this work if it's copyrighted or if you wish to make a counterclaim to say that "no, I own the rights to this specific work".

Now, what was at stake was the fact that his entire Amazon account could be shut down. Also, they can freeze his account and prevent him from getting royalties on the sales of this exact book.

Fortunately, another member of the group Sue, commented that first of all, it was incredibly important that he respond to Amazon immediately. In other words, by waiting even just a little bit when it comes to Amazon, he would risk having his entire account shut down.

So that was the first lesson which is you need to respond immediately to Amazon's claim and give your side of the story. In his case, he was able then to respond to Amazon and say, "no, I own the rights to this, I wrote the document".

Nowhere else on the internet using a program called Copyscape where you can establish that nobody else has the same as your document. That you're not stealing the document. It looks over the internet to see if anybody else has words that match your document or the manuscript that you have out there.

So, nobody else had a match. He was able to say, "no I own the copyright to this one". This other person simply is making a false claim as a competitor. To try to either eliminate my account from the internet or get my books that are competing with them pulled down.

You Can Do A Counterclaim

Amazon doesn't have infinite time to use lots of energy to figure this out for themselves. So, it is up to you to ensure that they aren't, in fact when somebody files in a baseless claim against you that you defend yourself and do it quickly.

The lesson that was learned from all of this was that business can be very dirty. You needed to stay on top of the communication. We don't assume that everybody is out for your best interest.

It also goes to show in this case we were dealing with a false copyrighted claim. So, are self published books copyrighted? Let's get into the answers.

The first answer is that your self-published work is protected as soon as you put the pen to the paper. That is to say that with regards to US law, it's not a matter of finding your document with somebody else. With an agency or organization to establish them, it's copyrighted.

The second you put it out if you are the first one to get it out there and you can show that it was published on the internet or published on Amazon, then that means that you are going to have a fantastic chance of not having an issue here.

It is because the only way that they can establish that they were the first is that it wasn't published. They should show that they actually had it out first then you came out with it. So the burden is on the other person to actually prove that.

The same goes if somebody else takes a copy of your book and put it on to the internet, you can say "look, my book was published on this date here". You can see the document, when the publishing date was on Amazon and this book is a copy and that the content is not original.

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That will give you the ability to do a counterclaim if somebody were to make this particular type of claim against you. But you don't need to do anything. You can put the 'see for copyright' also on your thing without filing any.

You can simply say, "look, I declare this book copyrighted". You can put that within the copyright page. You have the page in the book, you just declare it.

The second we do that, we've now declared copyright. But don't even have to do that, just simply putting the pen to the paper if you can establish the date when you did it, those works are protected.

The second answer to remember today is that copyright is based on your creative authorship. It is not dependent on any formal agreement. Now, what exactly does that mean?

That means that you don't have to have an agreement between you and the government or agency or anybody else to establish that you own the rights to that document.

I have several books that I have written myself and I have also paid other people to write books for me as well. It is not under my name, it's under a pen name. But then putting books on the market that people are wishing to buy, I had a claim made against me that says, "your book is not original content".

Present Your Proof Of Ownership

I then went to my ghostwriters and I had them write up a little contract that says, "yes this book is original content and we wrote it, and it is, in fact, original material". We send it to Amazon and they immediately lifted that particular issue that we had with the claim that was made.

And everything was fine. Remember, I did not wait even 1 day. I simply very quickly went through the process to get that document, to say I own the work, and sent it to Amazon and made a counterclaim.

I also told them from the beginning, even that very day I received the message, "okay, here are the steps I'm going to take. I'm going to contact the person who exactly wrote the thing, they are going to give me proof that they said it." Just so they know that you are not sitting on it.

Because remember if you are silent, that is a way of saying you're guilty. And this is not what we want to do when it comes to Amazon. We need to make sure our books are getting sold and that our competitors are not playing dirty strategies and tactics against us.

We want to keep things at the cool and keep our competitors at the cool as well. The third and secret answer of the day is that way too many authors are worried about their books being stolen which is a complete waste of time. There is a couple of reasons for this.

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If you are doing your book correctly, you put in there a way of doing lead generation. Giving something free to get people on your email list. So, let's pretend that one of your books happens to be stolen and put onto a pirate site.

I have seen this before. This happens all the time for bestsellers. The fact is you can even use a pirated version, giving it to people who wouldn't have ever paid for your books anyways and they get it onto your email list.

You can market to these people directly. In other words, it can actually be a win for you if you can actually get these people onto your email list and make a profit off of the very people who were originally stealing your book.

If you happen to have a bestseller, you pulled it down from one site and it will immediately pop up on another site. In reality, you are going to waste a lot of time on this. So, I'm going to do you a huge favor and give you a piece of advice here.

You need to make sure that you are not spending any time on this copyright issue. But you will only defend yourself against other people's claims against you. You should not use any time going after other people, that is a waste of time.

Unless you have a ton of lawyers set up to go at suing people. You can't even figure out if these people even have money. In the first place, you are wasting money.

So, do not go that route. This will save you, just listen to me in this one. So, are self published books copyrighted?

Go ahead and tell me what you have found below in the comments. I respond to all of the comments that come in, I really appreciate my viewers, listeners, and readers. Check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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