eBooks and eProducts


eBook Copyrights - What to Know

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There is a great deal of information about ebook copyrights on the Net. Unfortunately, much of it is very confusing and difficult to understand.

Hopefully the information here on ebook copyrights will help. If you are a subscriber to our ezine, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about ebook copyrights. We will do our best to answer any questions you may have.

Because copyright laws may differ in other countries, the information presented here relates to the United States of America. If you are a visitor from another country, please check the copyright rules that are applicable to your country. Information on the copyrights of many other countries can be found at the online books page.

Information has been collated from various sources, much of it from the United States Copyright Office, and put together in summary form in an easy to understand format.

To our knowledge, the information given here is accurate and up-to-date. Hopefully it will give you a better understanding of the copyright laws. If you want more detailed information, look at the website of the United States Copyright Office

Let's begin...


"Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of original works of authorship.” [reference: United States Copyright Office] and is often misunderstood.

No publication or registration in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created in a fixed or tangible form (notated or recorded). In other words, anything written in a fixed form such as an ebook is automatically copyrighted.

However, ownership of an ebook does not give the possessor the ebook copyright. For example if you download an ebook, you do not have the ebook copyright. Only the author of that book or someone who has been given rights by the author has that ebook copyright.

The following are not protected by copyright:

1) Works that are not in a tangible form (notated or recorded).

2) Titles, names, phrases, slogans, familiar symbols or designs, or mere listings of ingredients or contents.


The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under United States law (Berne Convention March 1, 1989). It is often beneficial, however, because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, it identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication.

The copyright notice should contain the following three elements:

1) The symbol

2) The year of first publication

3) The name of the copyright owner

For example 2004 Your Name (or Company)


Although it is unnecessary, You may also add the word 'Copyright'

For example Copyright 2004 Your Name (or Company)

An ebook created on or after January 1, 1978 is automatically copyright protected for 70 years after the author's death.

Any or all of the copyright owner's exclusive rights or any subdivision of those rights may be transferred, but the transfer of exclusive rights is not valid unless that transfer is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly authorized agent.

Transfer of a right on a nonexclusive basis does not require a written agreement.[reference: United States Copyright Office]. In essence this means that unless there is written authorization from the author, the receiver does not have exclusive rights.

Although registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law encourages copyright owners to make registration.

The advantages are:

1) Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.

2) For ebooks of US origin, registration is necessary before an infringement suit may be filed in court.

3) If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish the validity of the copyright.

4) If registration is made within 3 months after publication, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award for damages and profits will be available.

5) Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the United States Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies.


For additional information, request Publication No. 563 "How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Right," from: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7404, Washington, D.C. 20044.

Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published edition, if desired. [reference: United States Copyright Office]


To register your ebook, send the 3 items below in the same envelope or package to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

1) A properly completed application form.

2) A non-refundable filing fee of $30 for each application.

Note that Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current fees, please check the Copyright Office Website at www.copyright.gov, write to the Copyright Office, or call (202) 707-3000.

3) A non-returnable copy of the ebook to be registered.

If these three items are not received together, for example, applications and fees received without a copy of the ebook, the application will not be processed.

The copyright registration will take effect on the date the Copyright Office receives all three of the above items, regardless of how long it then takes to process the application and mail the certificate of registration.

Be careful to complete the application form correctly, otherwise you will be required to file a supplementary registration form with the Copyright Office at a cost of $100.


Persons who are legally entitled to submit an application form are:

1) The author - either the person who actually created the ebook or, if the work was made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared.

2) The copyright claimant - either the author of the work or a person or organization that has obtained ownership of all the rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author.

3) The owner of exclusive right(s) - Under the law, any of the exclusive rights that make up a copyright and any subdivision of them can be transferred and owned separately, even though the transfer may be limited in time or place of effect.

4) The duly authorized agent - Any person authorized to act on behalf of the author, other copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive rights may apply for registration.


Further Information


Information via the Internet: Circulars, announcements, regulations, other related materials, and all copyright application forms are available from the Copyright Office Website


Information by fax: Circulars and other information (but not application forms) are available from Fax-on-Demand at (202) 707-2600.

Information by telephone: For general information about copyright, call the Copyright Public Information Office at (202) 707-3000. The TTY number is (202) 707-6737. Information specialists are on duty from 8:30 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Friday, eastern time, except federal holidays. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. Or, if you know which application forms and circulars you want, request them from the Forms and Publications Hotline at (202) 707-9100 24 hours a day. Leave a recorded message.


Information by regular mail: Write to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
Publications Section, LM-455
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

For a list of other material published by the Copyright Office, request Circular 2, "Publications on Copyright."