The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know / Edition 10

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Protect your written works, easily and legally!In the Information Age, writers need to take steps to protect their hard work. Fortunately, The Copyright Handbook provides everything you need to get the job done.Inside, you'll find the information and forms you need to protect all types of written expression under copyright law. Let The Copyright Handbook show you how to:
  • register your work
  • maximize copyright protection
  • use a copyright notice
  • transfer ownership of copyright
  • avoid infringement
  • deal with infringers
  • understand the "fair use" rule
  • get permission to use copyrighted work
  • profit from your copyright
  • and much more
The 9th edition, completely updated to provide the latest case law and copyright regulations, now covers Internet works such as blogs. The CD-ROM provides over 30 up-to-date legal and copyright forms.
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
For anyone who creates written works...The Copyright Handbook is as essential as a dictionary.
Business Life
For anyone who creates written works...The Copyright Handbook is as essential as a dictionary.
Explains the ins and outs of copyright law in plain English and provides all the forms and step-by-step instructions to register a copyright
Bob Schwabach
The Copyright Handbook...has become a standard work on the subject.
Small Business Opportunities
Don't do anything without reading Consultant & Independent Contractor Agreements.... [This] book will help you understand the importance of written agreements and will show you exactly how to put your agreement together.
Writers Market
A thorough (and thoroughly enjoyable discussion of the subject of copyright law as it applies to writers.
"Explains the ins and outs of copyright law -- in plain English -- and provides all the forms and step-by-step instructions to register a copyright..."
Business Life
For anyone who creates written works...The Copyright Handbook is as essential as a dictionary.
Writer's Market
A thorough (and thoroughly enjoyable) discussion of the subject of copyright law as it applies to writers.
Library Journal
Attorney Fishman's new handbook is a welcome addition to the copyright self-help arena. Written in an accessible and interesting style, it makes effective use of examples to clarify points and is full of good tips and useful information. Fishman concentrates on copyright protection for printed matter (e.g., books, articles, scripts, songs) and offers one of the better ``how to '' sections on copyright registration. His handbook reflects current changes in copyright law, fees, and Copyright Office phone numbers. Besides coverage of the usual copyright topics (copyright notice, infringement, fair use, works made for hire, transfer of copyright), Fishman also handles less obvious aspects (Should you put a copyright notice on material submitted to a publisher? How does ``rule of doubt'' work in copyright registration?). This is a good basic source for writers, publishers, researchers, and the public in general. Includes forms. Recommended for any collection. See also L. Ray Patterson and Stanley W. Lindberg's The Nature of Copy right, reviewed on p. 96.--Ed.-- Johanna Johnson, Dallas P.L.
Law Library Journal
"Indispensable for any writer..."
Explains the ins and outs of copyright law -- in plain English -- and provides all the forms and step-by-step instructions to register a copyright...
Home Office Computing
An excellent self-help guide through the law and the registration process, including the appropriate forms.
Law Library Journal
This book contains all the usual wonderful features we have come to expect from the Nolo line...
New Orleans Times-Picayune
[A] useful legal resource for writers...
Writer's Market - Writer’s Market
"A thorough (and thoroughly enjoyable) discussion of the subject of copyright law as it applies to writers." Writer’s Market
From the Publisher
“Presents a lucid, jargon-free explanation of copyright laws...” Library Journal

"The Copyright Handbook will be a hit with librarians, copyright researchers, and anyone who wants to protect their work." Cheryl LaGuardia, Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781413308938
  • Publisher: NOLO
  • Publication date: 10/4/2008
  • Edition description: Tenth Edition
  • Edition number: 10
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 8.92 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Fishman is the author of many Nolo books, including Deduct It! Lower Your Small Business Taxes, Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide and Home Business Tax Deductions: Keep What You Earn—plus many other legal and business books. He received his law degree from the University of Southern California and after time in government and private practice, became a full-time legal writer.

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Read an Excerpt


Here’s a book about copyright for written works. It is for the entire universe of people who deal with the written word.


Who This Book Is For

Novelists, short story writers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, biographers, historians, authors of how-to books, writers of scientific and technical works and other works of nonfiction, published and unpublished authors, journalists, freelance writers, persons employed by others to create written works, persons who employ others to create written works, editors who work for magazines and book publishers, established publishers, self-publishers, librarians, teachers, and literary agents.


How This Book Is Organized

This book has two parts:

  • Part I (Chapters 2–4) consists of a short overview of copyright law (Chapter 2, Copyright Basics), and a “how-to” guide on copyright notice and registration with the Copyright Office.
  • Part II (Chapters 5–16) serves as your copyright resource; it discusses the most important aspects of copyright law in detail. If you are unable to find the answers to your questions in Part II, the final chapter (Chapter 17, Help Beyond This Book) tells you how to do further research on your own and, if necessary, find a copyright attorney.
Which Parts of This Book You Should Read

Not everyone will want toread the whole book. Which parts you do want to read will of course depend on why you bought the book.

Most of you bought the book for one of these three reasons:

  • You want to know how to satisfy the procedural requirements to obtain maximum copyright protection for a written work.
  • You have a specific copyright question or problem.
  • You want a general education about copyright law.

Assuming you fall into one of these three categories, here is how you can make best use of this book.

Readers Who Want to Know How to Satisfy the Procedural Requirements for Maximum Copyright Protection

If you just want to know how to place a valid copyright notice on your work (that’s the © followed by a date and name you usually see on published works), read Chapter 3, Copyright Notice. Placing a valid copyright notice on your work will make it easier to enforce your copyright.

If you want to register your work with the Copyright Office, refer to Chapter 4, Copyright Registration, for a step-by-step explanation. You’ll find all the registration forms you need on the CD-ROM at the end of the book. You will obtain important benefits by registering your work after it is published.

Readers Who Have a Specific Copyright Question

If you have a specific question or problem, start with the table of contents at the front of the book. For example, suppose you want to know whether you need permission to use a quotation from Abraham Lincoln that you found in a recent Civil War history. By scanning the table of contents you would discover Chapter 11, Using Other Authors’ Words—probably the place to start.

If you didn’t find what you were looking for in the table of contents, you could use the index at the back of the book and search under such terms as “quotations” and “public domain.”

People Who Want to Learn All About Copyright

If you simply want to learn more about copyright, read Chapter 2, Copyright Basics, and then read as much of Chapters 5 through 16 as you wish. You can skip Chapters 3 and 4, since these chapters are intended for people who want to take specific steps to obtain maximum copyright protection for a written work.

What This Book Is Not About

This book only covers copyright for written works. This means it is not about:

  • copyright protection for music, artwork, photography, or audiovisual works; for a detailed discussion of legal protection for music, see Music Law: How to Run Your Band’s Business, by Richard Stim (Nolo).
  • publishing contracts—although we discuss the copyright aspects of publishing contracts, this is not a book about how to negotiate or draft contracts
  • protecting inventions—see Patent It Yourself, by David Pressman (Nolo), if you want to know about this
  • protecting computer software—see A Legal Guide to Web & Software Development, by Stephen Fishman (Nolo), if you want to know about this
  • protecting titles, logos, or slogans—these items may be protected under the federal and state trademark laws, which have nothing to do with copyright; see Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business & Product Name, by Stephen Elias (Nolo).
  • protecting ideas—copyright only protects words, not ideas. Ideas can be protected as trade secrets, which involves committing anyone who learns of the ideas to secrecy and maintaining security procedures to prevent the ideas from leaking out.
Icons Used Throughout the Book

Throughout the text, we have included the following icons to help organize the material.

Refers you to related information in another book or publication.

Let’s you know when you can skip information that may not be relevant to your situation.

This indicates that the information is a useful copyright tip.

This caution icon warns you of potential problems.

Indicates when a form is included on the accompanying CD-ROM.

Refers you to related information in another place in the book.

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Table of Contents

1.  How to Use This Book
How This Book Is Organized
Which Parts of This Book You Should Read
What This Book Is Not About
Icons Used Throughout the Book 2.  Copyright Basics
Why Have a Copyright Law?
What Is Copyright?
How Is a Copyright Created and Protected?
What Copyright Protects
Limitations on Copyright Protection
Copyright Ownership and Transfer of Ownership
How Long a Copyright Lasts
Copyright Infringement
Other Protections for Intellectual Property 3.  Copyright Notice Introduction When Copyright Notice Is Required
Why Provide a Copyright Notice on Published Works?
When to Provide Notice
Form of Notice
Notice on Compilations and Adaptations
Book Dust Jackets
Multimedia Works
Where to Place Copyright Notice
Other Information Near Notice
Copyright Notice on Unpublished Manuscripts 4.  Copyright Registration
What Is Copyright Registration?
Why Register?
What Can and Should Be Registered
Who Can Register?
Registration as a Single Unit
Registering Derivative Works and Compilations
Four-Step Registration Process
Selecting the Appropriate Registration Form
How to Complete Form TX
How to Complete Form PA
Registering Newspapers, Magazines, Newsletters, and Other Periodicals:
Form SE, Short Form SE, Form SE/Group, Form G/DN
Registering a Group of Contributions to Periodicals: Form GR/CP
Satisfying Copyright Office Deposit Requirements
Sending Your Application to the Copyright Office
Expedited Registration
Preregistration of Unpublished Works
Dealing With the Copyright Office
Full-Term Retention of Deposits and Other Ways to Preserve Deposits
Correcting Errors After Registration Is Completed

5.  Correcting or Changing Copyright Notice or RegistrationPart I: Dealing With Errors or Omissions in Copyright Notice
Works Published After March 1, 1989
Copies Published Between January 1, 1978 and February 28, 1989
Works Published Before 1978
Types of Errors or Omissions That Invalidate a Copyright NoticePart II: Dealing With Errors or Changes Affecting Copyright Registration:
Supplemental Registration
Why a Supplemental Registration Should Be Filed (When Appropriate)
When Supplemental Registration Is Not Appropriate
Supplemental Registration Procedure
Effect of Supplemental Registration

6.  What Copyright Protects
What Copyright Protects: Tangible, Original Expression
What Copyright Does Not Protect: The Boundaries of the Public Domain
Distinguishing Between Protected Expression and Material in the Public
Domain: Putting It All Together
7.  Adaptations and Compilations Derivative Works Compilations
8.  Initial Copyright Ownership
Independent Authorship by an Individual
Works Made for Hire
Jointly Authored Works

9.  Transferring Copyright Ownership
How Copyright Ownership Rights Are Transferred to Others
Rights Retained by Author After Transfer
Copyright Transfers Between Freelance Writers and Magazines and Other Periodicals
Copyright Transfers Between Writers and Book Publishers
Transfer Documents
Marriage, Divorce, and Copyright Ownership
Recording Copyright Transfers With the Copyright Office

10.  Copyright Duration Works Created During or After 1978 End of Calendar Year Rule
Works Created but Not Published or Registered Before January 1, 1978 Works Published or
Registered Before January 1, 1978 Special Rules for Works First Published Abroad Before 1978
Duration of Copyright in Adaptations (Derivative Works)
Termination of Transfers of Renewal Term Rights in -Pre-?1978 Works

11.  Using Other Authors' Words
Introduction to the Fair Use Privilege
When Is a Use a Fair Use?
Fair Use and the Photocopy Machine
Copying by Libraries and Archives
Other Fair Uses

12.  Copyright Infringement: What It Is, What to Do About It, How to Avoid It What Is Copyright Infringement?
How to Know Whether You Have a Valid Infringement Claim
When Copying Protected Expression Is Excused
Self-Help Remedies for Copyright Infringement
Overview of Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
What You Can Get If You Win: Remedies for Copyright Infringement
What to Do If You're Accused of Infringement

13.  International Copyright Protection
International Protection for U. S.  Citizens and Nationals
Protection in the U. S.  for Non?U. S.  Citizens
Copyright Protection in Canada
Marketing Your Work in Foreign Countries

14.  Copyright in the Online World, Electronic Publishing, and Multimedia
What's Available Online
What Online Materials Qualify for Copyright
Rights Enjoyed by Copyright Owners Online
How Copyright Protects Different Types of Online Works
Copyright Infringement Online
Copyright Formalities: Notice and Registration
Electronic Publishing and Ownership of Electronic Rights
Multimedia Works
Electronic Databases

15.  Copyright and Taxation Writers' Income Tax Deductions Taxation of Copyright Income
16.  Obtaining Copyright Permissions
Who Owns the Text?
Start With Online Permission Services
Locate the Publisher
Contact the Author
Special Situations
When You Can't Find the Rights Holder
Negotiating Text Permission and Fees

17.  Help Beyond This Book
Intensive Background Resources
Primary Source Materials on Copyright
Finding a Copyright Lawyer

Appendix A.  Sample Forms
1.  Single unpublished work (a novel); single author
2.  Single published work; single author; photos registered separately by photographer
3.  Single published work; five joint authors; publisher acquired all copyrights
4.  Single work made for hire; previously published under another title and revised; a derivative work
5.  Published book; derivative work based on previously published article; joint authors: one the author of the text, the other the photographer; text and photos registered together as a single unit of publication
6.  Single published work; publisher acquired all rights in text; text and work for hire cover art and copy registered together as a single unit of publication
7.  Published compilation (anthology); publisher registers for the authors
8.  Single author; contribution to collective work
9.  Group of contributions to periodicals in a 12-month period; a single author
10.  Original screenplay by a single author
11.  Unpublished song lyric; single author
12.  Three monthly issues of a monthly magazine registered as a group on Form SE/Group
13.  Single magazine issue
14.  Single issue of a magazine published three times a year; single author; not a work made for hireAppendix B.  How to Use the CD-ROM
A.  Installing the Form Files Onto Your Computer
B.  Using the Word Processing Files to Create Documents
C.  Using United States Copyright Office Forms
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