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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I keep seeing threads pop up about Amazon and copyright issues, where they're asking authors to prove their copyright. My understanding is that you 'have' a copyright to your work as soon as you post/publish it. But now it seems as if that's not enough for Amazon.

I have not gone through the government copyright office for my works because, A) I can't afford it, and B) I don't understand it.

What steps can we take to protect ourselves, if we don't have an official government copyright registration and Amazon comes knocking?

Also... what if you do get yourself a government copyright registration and then you make edits to your book? Is it still covered? Do you have to resubmit? Pay again for a new one?
 

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You can thank the scammers and plagiarists for Amazon's copyright emails.

If you were correcting a typo or adding a missing word, I wouldn't worry about it. If you are making significant changes, you really should email the copyright office and ask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm in the middle of a heavy-duty edit with a first book in a series, and plan to replace the current version with the edited version, hence my concerns. I worry that Amazon will demand proof of copyright, like the government registration, but I don't have that. I have a website I could point Amazon to, but I don't really get how that proves anything.
 
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Copyright registration for US folks is $35/title (or $55 if you have other content within the book you can't copyright, like quotes, images, etc). The process is relatively straightforward, you set up an online account at https://copyright.gov/ and go through an admittedly long set of forms to do it. It takes 6-12 months to get the actual registration certificate back.

Their FAQ is actually quite well written and in plain English versus some of the PDF docs which are in governmentese :)

It should also be noted, because I saw someone erroneously state something about registration in another thread, that the ONLY valid copyright registration for US authors is the US government one. There are no services that you can register a copyright with for any legal standing. There are some that claim to act as registries for proof, but legally, only the US one stands up in court. There are also services that will do the registration for you, at ridiculously high upcharges.

inconsequential said:
Also... what if you do get yourself a government copyright registration and then you make edits to your book? Is it still covered? Do you have to resubmit? Pay again for a new one?
The registration is on the work. While you do submit a copy of the work, it does include lee way for edits. Per their FAQ: "You may make a new claim in your work if the changes are substantial and creative, something more than just editorial changes or minor changes. This would qualify as a new derivative work. For instance, simply making spelling corrections throughout a work does not warrant a new registration, but adding an additional chapter would."
 

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Anma Natsu said:
Copyright registration for US folks is $35/title (or $55 if you have other content within the book you can't copyright, like quotes, images, etc). The process is relatively straightforward, you set up an online account at https://copyright.gov/ and go through an admittedly long set of forms to do it. It takes 6-12 months to get the actual registration certificate back.
And after you go through the forms once, you can save them as a template and then next time you only have to change the title and date. I'd go crazy if I filled them out from scratch each time.

The folks at the copyright office are also incredibly helpful. If you have any questions, contact them.
 

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inconsequential said:
My understanding is that you 'have' a copyright to your work as soon as you post/publish it.
Copyright adheres the instant that a work is reduced to a tangible form. A classmate and I argued over the meaning of 'tangible form'. He said the words on the screen were a tangible form. I said it was an evidentiary problem; the writer needs to save the work and be able to reproduce it for court. Publishing a work with Amazon is just more evidence.

inconsequential said:
I have not gone through the government copyright office for my works because, A) I can't afford it, and B) I don't understand it.
B is not a good reason. Educate yourself. Others have done it.

Registration with the copyright office is prima facie proof of ownership. Other than that, it chief benefit is that it allows you to sue for punitive damages in case of infringement. Unregistered works are limited to actual damages.
 
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antares said:
Copyright adheres the instant that a work is reduced to a tangible form. A classmate and I argued over the meaning of 'tangible form'. He said the words on the screen were a tangible form. I said it was an evidentiary problem; the writer needs to save the work and be able to reproduce it for court. Publishing a work with Amazon is just more evidence.
Per the copyright office, yes, words on the screen (or really words in the computer) is enough. Tangible form, for their purposes, means not just in your head. Though if you mean he was saying they "wrote it" but never saved the document anywhere on their computer or a server and it was just a fleeting blip on the screen, then yeah, proving that as existing or that the wording was just so is nearly impossible. If its in your computer, though, it is reproducible in court and these days easily verified. Publication is not required for evidence, and doesn't necessarily constitute it because then it screws over someone whose work is stolen before they publish it (though it is rare). It also doesn't work for the purposes of proving it to Amazon, as we've seen by threads here.

All that said, if you didn't register your work, as you noted, the damages you can get in court are so limited (and do NOT include lawyer fees like you can include for registered works), most authors can't even afford to bring suit if cease/desist and DMCAs don't work.
 

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I knew nothing of the copyright process until this thread. I followed the link and went to the real form and began filling it out. You can save at any point and go back or make it into a template. yay! The only part I muddled around in was the downloadable sample Powerpoint file which shows you each form. I was trying to get that to run, haha (totally rusty on using PPT!).
 

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inconsequential said:
I keep seeing threads pop up about Amazon and copyright issues, where they're asking authors to prove their copyright. My understanding is that you 'have' a copyright to your work as soon as you post/publish it. But now it seems as if that's not enough for Amazon.

I have not gone through the government copyright office for my works because, A) I can't afford it, and B) I don't understand it.

What steps can we take to protect ourselves, if we don't have an official government copyright registration and Amazon comes knocking?

Also... what if you do get yourself a government copyright registration and then you make edits to your book? Is it still covered? Do you have to resubmit? Pay again for a new one?
Amazon normally says to confirm your copyright with an email from the email address attached to your author webpage and is quite willing to accept that. As far as minor alterations such as changing minor phrases or correcting typos, those do not impact your copyright protection. Minor changes in effect become a part of the original work.
 

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inconsequential said:
I keep seeing threads pop up about Amazon and copyright issues, where they're asking authors to prove their copyright. My understanding is that you 'have' a copyright to your work as soon as you post/publish it. But now it seems as if that's not enough for Amazon.

I have not gone through the government copyright office for my works because, A) I can't afford it, and B) I don't understand it.

What steps can we take to protect ourselves, if we don't have an official government copyright registration and Amazon comes knocking?

Also... what if you do get yourself a government copyright registration and then you make edits to your book? Is it still covered? Do you have to resubmit? Pay again for a new one?
I indicate at the beginning of my books that I have copyrighted them at a particular month and year. Also, Amazon DTP enables you to select the publishing option which makes it impossible for others to copy your work whenever you're in the publishing stage for a book.
 

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toddhicks209 said:
Amazon DTP enables you to select the publishing option which makes it impossible for others to copy your work whenever you're in the publishing stage for a book.
I don't understand what you mean by this.
 
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