If you ever reach the stage to consider self-publishing your book, there are a lot of factors you may not even know you need to address. Consider the legalities involved with your novel; these are really important to follow to make sure you don't end up in trouble.
Things to remember regarding copyright and legalities when self-publishing your book
When you publish your book through a publishing house, you don’t have much to do beyond working with the editors to make sure that your text is the best that it possibly can be. But self-publishing is different. You are involved in every step of the way: from writing the book, to designing the layout, to marketing your finished product. Along the way, there are various little things that can trip you up if you aren’t paying attention. Here are a few legal things that you should pay attention to when you are self-publishing your book.
There is no simple answer – no black and white ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Text, such as quotes or music lyrics, have a slightly different set of issues that come with using other people’s work. Depending on how long the work of text has been around and how it was distributed, it may be public domain, meaning you don’t need permission from anyone to use it. It’s still a good idea to properly attribute these quotes, so people don’t think you are trying to pull a fast one.
For text that is not in the public domain, it is important to get written permission to use it. Many people would be flattered that you want to use something they wrote, others may not want their work associated with something. It’s always better to get permission before you do anything.
Image and Graphics Copyrights
When you are writing your story, you probably have ideas of what characters look like, what different scenes look like, and other visuals. But when it comes to recreating those visuals for your novel, it can get a little tricky. That Pinterest image of the perfect cottage probably can’t go in your novel because it doesn’t belong to you. The fancy little markers you found on Google that you have been using to break up sections may belong to someone else. So how can you complete your book?
As you are making money off your book, you can’t use someone else’s property under the Fair Use Doctrine, like the same way you can for a school project.
This leaves you with two choices. You can create your own images or you can attempt to get copyright permission to use. Creating your own images is the best idea since you probably don’t want to wade through the legalities of obtaining copyright permission (which could also take a very long time), and it allows you to fully customize everything about your images.
Trademarks and Brand Names
When it comes to trademarks and brand names, the law is a little looser, because things are so well-known. You can easily have your character take a run to the local Starbucks without using the trademark logo or getting permission from Starbucks.
The problem comes if you start associating products or brands with something negative or making false claims about them; this can be regarded as libel. While it does require the company to provide proof that your story was damaging, it best to just avoid this sort of thing altogether. When in doubt, just come up with a fictional company that doesn’t resemble any actual company.
While making sure that you can legally use everything in your book, the most important thing to remember is that you need to protect your own intellectual property. Mandour Law defines intellectual property as trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade dress, and trade secrets. Your novel falls under copyright protection, but only if you file for it. Some self-publishing companies will file a copyright for you, but you need to make sure that this happens.
In order to qualify for copyright protection, the work must be original.
Without a copyright, there is nothing to stop someone from stealing your work and making money off of it. When filing for a copyright of your work, you need to make sure you cover all your bases, so consider talking to a lawyer,or an assisting self-publishing company such as https://www.bookprintinguk.com/,
who have experience with intellectual property and copyright laws. This also allows you to look at property right - meaning who then owns your work and copyright should you pass on. You don’t want to do all this hard work and lose out because you didn’t file a copyright.
When you hire others to help you make your self-published work come to life (such as an editor or artist to create your book cover), discuss with those other parties the license and exclusive rights to ensure you know who owns what.
Self-publishing your book can be an adventure, but it doesn’t have to get out of hand. Just remember to check the little details and make sure you protect yourself so you can enjoy the fruits of your labours.