It never fails, about every six months or so the Facebook community launches into a frenzy over “Copyright Protection.” I’m sure you’ve seen it: the warning of impending doom if you don’t copy and paste the privacy declaration into your News Feed or Page. We writer types take copyright protection pretty seriously. But, does that mean that posting a few words on Facebook gives you any power at all? Continue reading “Facebook Copyright Protection Hoax”
Indie publishing is full of learning experiences. One of them involves what to put on the copyright page of your book. (The copyright page, to be clear, is the page on the flip side, or verso, of the title page at the very beginning of your book.)
People put all sorts of junk on this page, but really, there is only one thing that’s pretty much required to be there: your copyright notice.
I’m going to digress for a moment and talk about copyright, because I’ve seen some bad info floating around the interwebs. As the creator of the work in question, you hold the copyright. Period. You can fill out a form and pay $35 to register your copyright with the U.S. gummint, or you can do any of the other things I’ve seen mentioned (e-mailing a copy of the work to yourself, mailing yourself a hard copy, etc.), but none of them are required. They will not grant you the copyright to your own work. You already own it. Continue reading “Anatomy of a Copyright Page”
Let’s imagine I’ve bought a CD and ripped it to my computer to get MP3s of each track. (You kids can imagine I bought the album from Amazon and downloaded it straight to my computer, if that makes it easier to picture.) Then I copy one of the MP3s to my smartphone and set it as the ringtone for when the Evil Mastermind calls. I copy them all to my Kindle Fire and my MP3 player, each of which I’ll use to play the songs in different situations. I also leave them on my desktop computer where I’ll listen to them at times like now when I’m working at my desk.
Next I post a review on my blog where I quote a few lines (maybe a full paragraph) from your book and post it a few days later (okay, maybe weeks) to Amazon. It’s a five star review and you especially like one line (the one where I call it “the best book ever written”). You add a quote of that line (with proper attribution) to the book description on Amazon (and every other retailer), in large red letters across the top of every page on your website, and tweet it every hour on the hour with a bit.ly link to the book’s Amazon page.
Have either of us done anything wrong here? We’ve both copied something for which we don’t have the copyright. We didn’t ask for or obtain permission from the copyright holder. Continue reading “A Screed on Copyright”
The main character in my book, RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY, used to work at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta. He has a smallish collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia. And, not to put too fine a point on it, he drinks a whale of a lot of Coca-Cola. The bubbly drink is mentioned by name multiple times in the manuscript.
Am I about to get sued?
I don’t think so, but it’s not impossible. It almost happened to author Patrick Wensink, who wrote a book called “Broken Piano for President.” The cover of that book was designed as a homage to the Jack Daniels whiskey label – enough so that lawyers at Brown-Forsman, the parent company of Jack Daniels, wrote him an extremely polite letter asking him to change the cover art. That particular situation worked out well for both parties—Jack Daniels got goodwill points for handling the situation in a gentlemanly way, and Wensink got a small-but-welcome bump in sales. But it could have turned out in a much more negative way. Continue reading “Trademark and Copyright Issues”