Copyright and You

Copyright law has changed over the years, and authors have been striving to protect their work as quickly—and cheaply—as possible for many years. Authors have mailed their manuscripts to themselves—leaving them unopened with a postmark indicating the date—or have even left them with bankers or other officials to prove the date they were created in order to verify the copyright. Legally, copyright exists from the moment the work is created, so the moment you have written one word of your new novel, poem or other literary work, copyright exists.

However, the Supreme Court recently ruled that while copyright itself exists from the moment a work is created, a work must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office—with a certificate issued—in order for the owner to be able to sue another for copyright infringement.

A person must register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office within 3 months of publication or distribution of the work in order to be adequately protected, and this registration must be before any infringement occurs. A person cannot register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office after an infringement has occurred and claim statutory damages.

As it can take many months to receive a certificate from the U.S. Copyright Office, authors (as well as other creatives) may wish to begin the process even before publication. If you are an author without copyright protection or an artist with copyright concerns, please visit RedPenguinBooks.com, and we can process your application with the U.S. Copyright Office and secure the necessary certificate, thus protecting your work for life plus 70 years.