There are a few issues that pop up for Authors or Self-Publishers as they may not consider some of the legal issues that come up when writing their books, such as putting a contract in place with their publisher, designer or copy editor. The traditional book authorship has now become more complicated as the traditional publishing industry has changed with the internet and now more people are self-publishing. Which means that the authors who are not using publishing companies won’t have legions of experts to comb through their manuscript and may not have access to a legal department that can check their book before goes to print.

Not that authors are sued all the time, but when you take the route of self-publishing you also take on the liability that comes with the various legal issues. Navigating the legal hurdles of publishing is now something authors must be concerned.

Even if you do go the route of traditional publishing, you will most likely need to have a digital presence, which comes with a host of legal issues that you’ll want to know.

In the next few months we will share legal issues frequently encountered by Authors & Self-Publishers:

  1. Protecting Your Work: Do you need to worry about copyright of images and graphics?

Most of us have a general idea of what copyright protection is about but not sure how the law works. It is literally, the right to copy. Basic copyright law says that if you create it, then you own it. Yes, there are exceptions and nuances, but for the most part, you can do whatever you wish with your creations.

Today there are many resources where authors can find public domain images and graphics, but as with all things the internet, it’s up to the user to ensure that the work is indeed in the public domain and freely usable. That may be difficult if your source is a search engine, so using reliable sites can offer some peace of mind. You must be able to establish that your use does not interfere with the owner’s rights.


  1. Registration of your copyright

Authors may wonder if they have actually to take that next step and register their copyright. This is one of the areas where most lawyers will agree that the small fee is definitely worth paying. While it’s not required, because copyright of their book exists without registration, to pursue most legal action the work must be registered.


  1. Respecting Other People’s Work: Don’t accidentally infringe copyright

What happens if you are desperate to use someone else’s material? You can contact the owner and purchase a license to use the part of the material you want, and the owner sells you a license (almost always non-exclusive) to use the work for a particular period of time or in a certain way, and they keep the copyright. Otherwise, you could buy the work and the owner assigns the copyright to you and the law acts as if you were the creator, but this is very rare and expensive.


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