As I'm a new writer, I don't know how to get copyright for my first book. Could anyone help me please? My book is an e-book in E-Pub format.

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    Hello and welcome to Writers. Copyright procedures vary by location; where do you live? Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 16:19
  • @MonicaCellio What do you mean by "Copyright procedures vary by location"? Can you give an example not involving the USA?
    – babou
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 12:49
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    @babou I said that because I don't want us to be US-centric, actually. I know that in the US there's a place to register for a copyright, but that'll just apply to the US and (maybe?) other Berne Convention countries. If I were in the UK or India or New Zealand I'd have no idea what to do, but it wouldn't involve the US copyright office. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 17:58
  • @MonicaCellio Copyright procedures are essentially the same in all member countries of the Berne Convention. What may vary is the way courts may evaluate evidence. Registering with the copyright office (CO) may be with little value against any strong evidence of earlier ownership by another party or other technically strong proof. Anyone can steal work and register. CO registration is just one many kinds of fairly strong evidence. But the CO has another role as I explained in 2 other places. (BTW, deletion may have been a wrong choice).
    – babou
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 17:14
  • @babou while all Berne Convention signatories (and there are a lot of them) have the same rules, it seems possible that the processes are different. If they're not -- if everybody pretty much handles the mechanics the same way -- then that's an important thing to cover in an answer. (I don't know what you mean about deletion; there are no deleted answers on this question.) Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 17:18

3 Answers 3


WHERE? It differs from country to country.

In the US, you can register it with the Copyright Office. In other countries usually there's some counterpart to that.

Note - you already own copyright for your book. It happened the moment you saved the final form, automatically. Still, if you want your rights protected, you need some means of proving that you own copyright to that work - otherwise it's just your word against word of whoever plagiarized your work. There is a number of methods of proving you own the copyright, but registering your work with the copyright office is about the most reliable and simple.

  • Actually I'm in India. Could you please refer me the process of owning the copyright for my Book. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 13:42
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    India is a signatory to the Berne Convention, which means that anything you publish in India is automatically protected by copyright in India and 166 other countries. For information specific to India, you could check the Web site of its copyright office: copyright.gov.in Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 16:03
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    AFAIK, the USA is the only country where you need to register. This is for historical reasons, as the USA joined the Berne Convention only about 20 years ago. The Berne Convention is historically hostile to formalities regarding effective ownership of copyright. The fact the the USA were accepted as member despite the existence of this registration process considerably weakened one major article of the Berne Convention, with consequences that may reveal quite interesting. If any other country does have registration, I would be very interested in knowing it.
    – babou
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 1:21
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    @babou: you don't need to register a work in the United states, although doing so does give you some additional punative fees you can ask the court to impose on an infringer.
    – DougM
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 22:37
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    "You get a benefit if you register" is worlds apart from "you must register." You can never register at all, and you still have copyright.
    – DougM
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 3:40

The important part here is that you always and already own the copyright to your work, at least in all 167 countries that have signed the Berne Convention. There is nothing you need to do to own it. Even in the US, registration of a work with the Copyright Office is not a prerequisite for copyright protection, according to section 408 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.

What you need to do is make sure you can prove that it is your work and, for questions of plagiarism, when you created it. That is the purpose of copyright registration in the US. It is also required in the US for some benefits, such as awards of statutory damages. Usually adequate proof is created when your work is published, e.g. by having your book printed by a publisher.

If your work remains unpublished and you are not in the US (and cannot register your work), you can deposit a copy of your work with a lawyer or notary.

Apart from the links provided in my answer, the FAQ of the US Copyright Office provides a lot of useful information.

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    Dear God, NO. The us mail is not a notary, and a postmark is little better than any other date on the paper. You want to involve a second party, ideally someone like a notary or lawyer, but at least someone who can testify on your behalf.
    – DougM
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 22:41
  • @DougM I do not know the US case law on this postmark issue, and I seriously doubt there is a Congress act about it (sorry, I am only moderately familiar with US legalese). This is not a copyright matter and law of evidence is relevant. Are you saying that a court will never consider a postmark, or other time-stamps for registered mail as evidence in a court case? What about blood stains on a time stamped envelope that would tell a murder occurred after a given date (I realize that is criminal rather than civil issue).
    – babou
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 8:45
  • "Registration of a work with the Copyright Office is not a prerequisite for copyright protection". IMHO This is inaccurate, even though it is in the law (probably as a matter of diplomacy when joining the Berne Convention). It is true only for non US works and some other specific cases. There is copyright ownership and copyright protection. For unregistered US works, it is like owning a house in a place where cops and judges will refuse to arrest or sue trespassers. You own it, but it is not protected, and people can freely infringe. Or is my legalese wrong? Comments anyone ? cc @DougM
    – babou
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 9:18
  • I read a comment by a lawyer who said that a self-mailed envelope with your work would serve as evidence in a court case. So while it may not decide a legal dispute in the same way as copyright registration does, it is still better than nothing, if you cannot afford the fees for registration or a notary. Also, why don't you just read the links I provided in my answer. The Wikipedia article on Copyright Registration even list different countries.
    – user5645
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 10:49
  • Since the OP is from India, why do we have to discuss the situation in the US at all ?!?
    – user5645
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 10:52

The ownership of the copyright is de facto attributed to the author as he creates the work.

However, you may have to prove that you are the author against possible claims by someone else. All means that can prove your authorship are appropriate. You can register it with a public notary, or you can publish an unforgeable signature (SHA1) on the Internet and manage to have it stored by the Internet archive. Or you can publish that signature as a classified ad in a newspaper (some corporations did that). What is important is to have a date officialised when you were the only one (plus your trusted ones) to know the content of the book. Publishing may do that too, if you intend to go through a professional publisher, which not everyone does any longer.

If your book is published in the USA first, you need to register it with the US copyright office if you want to be able to sue copyright infringers in the USA (article 411 of copyright law). You can register at any time, but it has to be before the infringement started if you seek statutory damages or attorney fees (article 412 of copyright law). Registration does not grant you the copyright (you already have it) but it grants the right to sue to whoever owns the copyright (it can be sold).

However if you publish first in another country, you can sue copyright violations in the USA without registering (as a consequence of the Berne Convention). However, you cannot claim damage or attorney fees if you had not registered before the infringement started.

Note that it is the country of first publication that matters, not the nationality of the author, or the country where it was written, or the language used. So, for an e-book, try to make it available in another country first, so that it is better protected in the USA, strange as it may seem. This works for US citizens too.

In all other countries (member of one of the major treaties on intellectual property), afaik, you can simply sue all copyright violations, and with at least the same legal protections as local citizens (even when they are subjects). There is no registration formality.

A last point is that copyright violation is not the same as plagiarism. Copyright violation is duplicating your book without your consent. Plagiarism is pretending to be the author of your book, or of parts of your book.

Authorship is a moral right, independent from copyright. You can sell your copyright, in whole or in parts. But authorship remains with the author. It is protected by article 6bis of the Berne Convention. You can sue for plagiarism even when you do not own the copyright, but the specifics are country dependent.

IANAL - this is no advice and I am not a lawyer ... I probably do not even exist.

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    Do you have a link to support your "you have to register before infringement or you cannot sue" claim? I believe you're wrong as a matter of us law.
    – DougM
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 22:46
  • @DougM I have not been precise enough, but there are so many details. For a US work, you must register in order to sue (article 411 of copyright law). But you cannot seek statutory damages of attorney fees if you were not registered before the infringement started (article 412). ... Would you mind telling me what is wrong in my answer above.
    – babou
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 0:16
  • nothing now. looks perfect!
    – DougM
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 3:41

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