Like any other system of laws or regulations, “copyright” is a nebulous, often confusing structure for even the most well-informed legal minds. Now that the internet’s made it harder to track the origins of certain intellectual properties, it can be difficult to know your rights as a creator and feel protected. That’s why today we’ll be discussing some of the most basic aspects of copyright that you’ll need to know in order to self-publish your work.
Note: Because BookWorks is based in the United States, most of this information is only applicable to US copyright law. Every country’s copyright structure is a little different, so some of the specifics of this advice might not apply everywhere.
You don’t need a formal license to have copyright
Under the 1976 Copyright act, you don’t need a formal license to consider your work copyrighted. The second you create and record it — regardless of whether you use word processors or pens — copyright is yours. And you’ll continue to have copyright protection for your entire life, plus 70 years after your death (though probably more if you put your work out soon — the laws tend to get changed to lengthen the time of copyright whenever Mickey Mouse or any other Disney property gets close to becoming Public Domain). Copyright is also transferable as any property is — you can sell it, give it to someone, or even bequeath it in a will.