Authors are known to create magical worlds with their words. Unfortunately, the internet has been known to plagiarise and copy these words. So, how can you as an eBook author protect your work from being misused? In this post, we at Reality Premedia help you understand all you need to know about copyright in cyberspace.
Before we begin, we’d like to let you know that this article is no replacement for proper legal counsel. It’s just a guide and should be treated like one. Now that we’ve legally protected ourselves ;), let’s dive in!
What is Copyright?
For the layman, the term ‘copyright’ can sound daunting. In reality though, it’s actually very simple. Copyright refers to the right to copy. So whoever has the copyright over an eBook, can sell, adapt, reproduce or translate it. Meaning whoever has the copyright has access to any financial gains that may come from a particular piece of work.
However, keep in mind that copyright only protects the expression of the idea and not the idea itself. What this means is that the theme of your work can be copied, but not the work itself.
Take for example a fictional story. It could be about a superhero. S/he not only has to save the world from a villain but must also fight his/her internal demons. Are sounds familiar, doesn’t it? This is the theme of many superhero stories. Yet each story is copyrighted individually because the way they express this idea differs.
Who Owns the Copyright to Your eBook?
Here’s some good news. If you wrote your eBook yourself the copyright is yours by default. And it comes into effect the moment your book is complete. This means you don’t have to wait to publish your work.
The only exception to this rule is when you create an ebook for a company. In that case, the copyright belongs to your employer.
So, if an Author Owns the Copyright, why Register It?
Why do we register anything? From the moment we are born to the moment we die, we go through a series of certificates at every stage of life. These certificates are recognised in a court of law and allow us to protect ourselves against any injustices. Similarly, registering copyright protects your work from being misused. Here’s how.
If you publish an eBook, without registered copyright, someone else can claim it as theirs. You would have no way to refute their argument. You end up doing all the work & losing money while the infringer makes profits off your work without any creative effort.
Having registered copyright not only protects your work against such situations, it also allows you to claim damages from the infringement, and recover at least some money.
Why Copyright Registration is Even More Important Online?
Anyone who has used the internet is aware of how it helps make the world a smaller place. Today, you can be sitting at one side of the globe and still be aware of happenings in a remote village on the other side. While this is extremely beneficial for all of us, it also opens us up to global copyright thefts.
When you publish an eBook on any platform, it is open to the world to see and copyright laws usually apply only locally. However, India is part of what is called the Berne Convention.
The Berne Convention is an agreement between several countries (over 170) to protect literary and artistic works. One of the terms of this agreement is that if the work originates in a member state, all other member states must give it the same protection. Therefore, even if you don’t register your copyright in other countries, the copyright of your work could still belong to you and this protects you in the borderless world of cyberspace.
How Does Copyright Work For Online Self-Publishing Platforms?
As you’ve read above, if you’ve created it, you own it. When you publish your work on an online self-publishing platform, you are essentially giving the platform permission to display and sell your work in return for a fee.
In legal terms, you are giving the platform a license. Licensing implies that you still own the copyright. The platform cannot use your work in any other way, apart from what is mentioned in the agreement, without your permission.
Each online self-publishing platform may have slightly different terms. Some may not allow you to display your eBook on any other platform while others may have different rules for financial transactions. Irrespective, read the terms and conditions in detail to ensure that you still own the copyright. eBooks today are a tool to run your business better. They help attract customers, increase revenue and add credibility to your reputation. Copyrighting your eBook is like insuring your business. Luckily the process is extremely simple and doesn’t cost much either. So before you go ahead and publish your next eBook, be sure to get its copyright registered. And for any other queries about publishing an eBook, you can always ask us at Reality Premedia.