To Copyright Or Not To Copyright

copyrightSurely, Shakespeare would have asked the same question. It is, after all, very important.

As writers, he tirelessly hammer away at our keyboards, poking at the keys hoping to create the best prose we can make up with our vivid imaginations. We turn words into carefully crafted and massaged sentences. Some of those actually become articulated magic.

Sometimes we step back, no, we jump the fuck back with our arms raised in the air and shout at the holiness we’ve penned, “Holy hellshit, I wrote that?”

We pause. We reflect upon on our journey. We cry. We laugh. Back off, we write. We have many emotions.

We slowly turn our head, shifting our eyes, gazing over our shoulder to see if anyone’s watching. Our paranoia sets in. We have some serious fucking issues.

We ask ourselves if we should give this to anyone to read. Another writer? A writer’s group? We slam the breaks, one-eighty in a blur, and wonder aloud, “What if someone tries to steal this?”

Our fingers twitch. We reach for Stabby Joe, um, I mean a knife. We reach for a knife. No, of course we, uh – I – haven’t named my knife. Huh, that’d just be silly. Ludicrous even. Insane. Hey, leave me alone.

I’m not talking about prying papers from our trembling hands at pencil point, I’m talking about someone seeing it and taking it as their own. Beyond plagiarism. Beyond copying our story. Beyond cracking our head and grabbing the intellectual property. Worse. Much Worse.

The spawn of satan trolling the land of the Internet has replaced the big surly thug with the chain wallet who would just walk up and smack you senseless then take your manuscript. Now, said spawn, reaches his smoldering hands through the matrix of the Web to places like Amazon to defalcate free books by Indie authors.

His thought is that if a book is self-published, he can easily steal it as his own since there isn’t a powerful publisher to fight back.

Copyright may not stop his douche-nozzle thievery, but it will trip him up along the way so you can swing the shiny steel of the parang and slice off the pus-filled head of the monster, kicking it down the stairs.

Click here and read Brooklyn Hudson’s story of how her book was ripped from her and filled with porn. PORN!


gold-copyright-symbolThe US – yes, even during government shutdown – has great copyright laws. Wether it’s a speech, miscellaneous ramblings on a website blog, art, that screenplay staring yourself, or music, etc., your shit is protected. In fact, it’s protected from the very second you created it.

Do you want to keep your work, your precious baby, out of the hands of the pilfering whoreson who want to steal it?

Copyright law can be a bit blurry for attorneys and agents who work with intellectual property all the time, so, I’d suggest that future self-publishing authors copyright their work.

I can hold your hand, in which case you’d need to be here. Annndddd, that could be awkward. Or, you can follow the hopeful painless process below. First, cleanse your aura with a few deep breaths.

1. Go to the US Copyright website

2. At the eCO Online System page, you’ll see a link to view the available file types you must submit your manuscript as, which includes nearly all standard file types. The basic claim is only $35.

3. Continue To eCO

4. Register and Create a cool username, like JazzyBearLikesGrumplyBear. In the sad event that’s already taken, add a 9. Create a password.

Still with me?


6. Find the Type of work. Then locate Literary from the drop menu.

7. When you get back to the Electronic Copyright Office page, find the New button to add your work.

8. When prompted, add the title, like Shit I Wrote and Now Want to Publish. Don’t worry, it’ll be a cool read. Seriously, there no fucksies here. Be careful. YOU CANNOT CHANGE THIS LATER. EVER. PERIOD.

9. Once you’ve gotten this far, you can handle the rest.

The online process does take some time. Be patient. Be thorough. And, well, be good. Because, you know, it’s always nice ‘n stuff.

You’ll receive three emails when you have successfully finished with the copyright service. The first will arrive from paygovadmin verifying receipt of your payment. The second will arrive from the Copyright Office stating that they have received your application and payment. The third will also be from the Copyright Office stating they have received the uploaded deposit of your work.

Remember that patience? Good. It takes about eight to twelve weeks to receive your Certificate of Registration complete with all the copyright information and your Registration Number.

Then, if anyone tries to pass your work off as their work, you can flash your… Well, let’s just say that the copyright and registration will give you the proper ammo to unleash hell.

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