In continuation of our legal series, we’re discussing what your rights are if your work has been taken:

What if it’s your work that’s taken?

Without a big publisher behind you, policing your copyright adds to your post-publication duties. If you’ve taken the steps to register your work, enforcing your copyright through the court system is a little easier. Being able to identify that your work has been copied is what becomes more challenging and what do you do at that point?


The first step would be to contact the author (and/or publisher) and tell them they’re violating your copyright. Depending on how much of your work has been taken; you may want to speak to a lawyer to find out the best way to approach the author and/or publisher of the allegedly infringing work. If your work has not been registered yet, and the alleged infringement is significant, registering your work should be done immediately.


Authors are likely aware of the basics of copyright when it comes to their book but there are a few other key legal concerns that can greatly impact authors and self-publishers throughout the entire process, from conceiving the idea to all the subsequent updates, from pre-marketing to post-publication marketing


Part of learning is making mistakes. Unfortunately, with self-publishing mistakes the consequences can be quite harsh. Authors are not often versed in the nuances of copyright law and may unwittingly find themselves on the wrong end of a copyright infringement conversation.


A self-published author’s credibility is tied to more than just the words of their book.


Whereas an author who is working with a traditional publisher may have multiple checks along the way, self-publishing requires you to wear many more hats.  This is when having the ability to access a lawyer to help you understand a few legal topics helps you make more informed choices, avoiding potential liability, and being able to act quickly to protect your rights. There is a great legal service called LegalShield that I recommend checking out as it is extremely affordable for anyone needing legal advice and gives you the ability to speak to a lawyer on any matter without worrying about the high hourly cost that we are all aware of when contacting a traditional lawyer. It’s very crucial and empowering to know what your options are to avoid any liabilities as you venture down the self-publishing route especially.

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