How to Copyright Your eBook (+ Example Copyright Pages)
That’s why it’s so important to copyright your eBook; in the unfortunate event that somebody does try to pass your work off as their own, you’ve got some legal protection.
One of the easiest, yet most effective, ways to protect your eBook is to include a copyright page. Here’s everything you need to know about copyright pages for eBooks, and how they can protect your work.
Here are a quick list of topics that we’ll cover:
- What is a copyright page?
- Do eBooks need a copyright page?
- Where to place an eBook copyright page
- What to include in your eBook copyright page
- Tips when dealing with other people’s copyrights
- Do I need to register my eBook to copyright it?
- EXAMPLES: Copyright page free examples
What is a Copyright Page?
If you’ve ever opened a physical book, chances are you’ve seen a copyright page near the start, but flicked straight past it to get to the contents page or the first chapter.
A copyright page is the part of a book that lets people know that the work isn’t in the public domain. It’s the best way to tell readers that the work shouldn’t be reused, or republished, without explicit written consent.
A copyright page will not automatically stop somebody from plagiarizing your work, but it does act as a deterrent. A detailed copyright page makes it much easier to pursue legal action against a plagiarizer.
Not only do copyright pages help to protect your work from plagiarism, but they also contain technical information about the work. Details such as ISBN numbers can be helpful to distributors and retailers.
Do eBooks Need a Copyright Page?
Even though an eBook is a digital asset, it’s still incredibly important to include a copyright page. Because eBooks are available online, and are more easily shared electronically, eBooks are arguably more vulnerable to plagiarism and piracy.
Where to Place an eBook Copyright Page
In printed books, the copyright page is usually found on the reverse of the title page. eBooks are structured differently, so it’s common for an eBook copyright page to immediately follow the title page.
There’s no strict rule for where the copyright page should be placed, however. Some people may put it after the acknowledgement page, while some may have it appear even before the title page.
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What to Include in Your eBook Copyright Page
Having an eBook copyright page is only worthwhile if it contains the right information. Some details are required, to make it legally legitimate, while others are optional. Here are a few examples of potential features for your eBook copyright page.
1. Copyright Notice
The copyright notice is the first example of a feature that all copyright pages should include. It’s basically a declaration of ownership, which establishes you as the legal owner of your work. A copyright notice should include three key pieces of information:
The word ‘Copyright’, or alternatively the ‘©’ symbol. Because the ‘©’ symbol is not recognized in all countries, and the word ‘Copyright’ may not be recognized in non-English speaking countries, you can include both to cover all the bases.
The name of the copyright holder. For most self-published eBooks, this will be the name of the author, or the pen name if one has been used.
The year the eBook was published.
A complete copyright notice should look something like this:
2. Rights Reserved Notice
The second essential element of a copyright page is the rights reserved notice. This serves to establish your ownership of the work, and preserves your rights for publication and distribution of the eBook. It also secures you the right to financially benefit from your work.
The only text required for a legitimate rights reserved notice is the words ‘all rights reserved’. However, additional information can be included at the author’s discretion. For example, you can add details explaining the exclusivity of rights.
An example of a rights reserved notice would be as follows:
Once your copyright page has a copyright notice and a rights reserved notice, it is complete. However, you may wish to include additional information, such as the following.
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) doesn’t serve a particular legal purpose. However, you may still wish to include one on your copyright page as it helps with identification of your eBook. This can be a bonus if you plan on making your eBook available for sale through a variety of retailers.
An ISBN can be purchased through the relevant national ISBN Agency for the publisher. A comprehensive list of these by country is available on the International ISBN Agency website.
A disclaimer is designed to protect you, as the publisher of your eBook, from legal action undertaken by other parties. It is essentially a place for you to deny responsibility for certain aspects of your work.
For example, if your work is an autobiography or biography, you may wish to include a disclaimer stating that names have been altered to protect people’s privacy. Or, if your eBook is a fictional novel, you may wish to include a disclaimer which denies that your characters have been based on real people.
A typical disclaimer on a copyright page may read as follows:
5. Permissions Notice
Including a permissions notice is the best way to show that you have obtained authorization to use the copyrighted material of others in your eBook.
For example, if your eBook contains photographs or illustrations which you did not personally produce, you could include a permissions notice to indicate that permission was obtained from the owners. This may read as follows:
The credits section of your copyright page gives you the opportunity to acknowledge anyone else who has contributed to your eBook. This could include the artist who created the cover per a commercial proposal, or the editors and proofreaders who helped you to perfect the text.
Remember to Respect the Copyright of Others
While it’s important to protect your own work against plagiarism, it’s equally as important to respect the rights of other authors and publishers. That’s why you should credit any other authors and creators correctly.
1. Credit Images
Any images or graphics you use in your eBook should be properly credited, unless of course you created them yourself. This includes photographs of historical figures, famous buildings or locations, or charts and graphs from studies.
You may be exempt from giving credit if you’ve purchased a commercial license or have another profit sharing agreement in place, which specifically states that source attribution isn’t required. It’s best to check the terms of any licenses you’ve purchased if this applies to you.
2. Use Proper Citations
You should ensure that any references used in your eBook are properly cited. Many authors will do this using footnotes, but there are alternative ways to format references. Just remember to keep the format for citing references consistent throughout your eBook.
3. Attribute Quotes
Any quotes from other works should be properly cited in your eBook, but this alone is not enough to avoid allegations of plagiarism. You should also ensure you’re following best practices, such as adding your own original thoughts and analysis of any quotes you utilize.
It’s a good idea to take note of fair use laws if you’re planning on including quotes from other works in large quantities. Quotes should be included as a jumping off point for your own unique work. Any quotes you include should be expanded upon in your own words.
It’s important to note that you cannot copyright any material which is already in the public domain. However, you can copyright any unique and original additions you’ve made to this material.
Do I Need to Register My eBook to Copyright It?
Under US copyright law, you have automatic ownership and control over any original works you produce. This includes eBooks, so there’s no need to register to gain copyright protection.
You can choose to voluntarily register your eBook for copyright, however. The U.S. Copyright Office recommends this for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it provides a certificate of registration, and places the facts of your copyright on the public record.
Secondly, registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in a successful copyright litigation. If you wish to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit for a U.S. work, you must first have registered the copyright.
Copyright Page Examples
In order to give you an idea of how different copyright pages can look in different eBooks, we’ve gathered a selection here.
Copyright Page from Great Expectations
As a novel first published in the 1800s, the copyright page of the Great Expectations eBook focuses more on the current publisher than the original author, Charles Dickens. It does contain several of the features we’ve discussed here, however, such as the copyright and rights reserved notices.
Image sourced from Amazon
Copyright Page from Akata: The Saga of an American Girl Finding Her Roots
As an autobiography, Akata: The Saga of an American Girl Finding Her Roots features a good example of a copyright page with a disclaimer.
Image sourced from Amazon
Copyright Page from Andy Warhol: A Life From Beginning to End
As a biography of an artist, images are important to Andy Warhol: A Life From Beginning to End. As such, it features a good example of an image credit on its copyright page.
Image sourced from Amazon
Protect Your eBook With a Copyright Page
Whether writing is your day job, or you’re doing it as a side hustle, you need to ensure the work you produce is protected. While a copyright page is not a complete defense against piracy, plagiarism, and legal action, it is an excellent place to start.
The two most essential aspects of a copyright page are the copyright notice itself, and the rights reserved notice. Other features can be added as required, including an ISBN number, disclaimers, credits, and even contact information for the publisher.
Examine some examples of successful copyright pages for similar works to determine what yours should include, then add it as one of the finishing touches to protect your hard work.
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