Can eBooks be Copyrighted?

Can eBooks be Copyrighted? -All that you Need to Know

We live in an age of the electronic world; an electronic book or eBook remains part of the trend. 

The dictionary defines an eBook as an electronic book composed in or converted to digital format for display on a small personal computer or handheld device.

While crafting that perfect manuscript remains the top priority of a writer. However, careful attention also needs to be paid to the copyright page of the eBook. With all the hard work that goes into writing a particular printed book, the last thing that should happen is someone modifying, selling, or any way using the copyrighted material without the knowledge of the creator. They break the copyright law and commit infringement.

Call it a misconception, but quite often, the term copyright may only be reserved concerning a book that is in a tangible form. Considering that eBooks remain a digital commodity, it may be assumed that there is no liability to copyright. 

However, with copyright, it is not just the physical property rights of a book but also the intellectual rights of its content that get protected.

While as a norm, an author’s work is protected from infringement for 70 years past their death, issues could arise if the author has not gone ahead and taken steps to care about the ownership rights.

The US has some fair use terms concerning copyrighted material. It pays, in the long run, to go ahead and formally register the eBook’s copyright with the US Copyright Office, which will offer further legal protections restricting anyone from unlawfully copying or selling the content of a particular eBook. It is all about knowing the right way ahead in terms of copyright.

As an individual who has taken the trouble to key in a self-published eBook, the sole rights to the content belong to the writer. However, it remains pretty easy for someone with a mala fide intent to pirate in the digital world. It distributes the written work as its own.

Electronic versions of a physical book remain particularly susceptible to copyright infringement. It is much easier to swipe and copy digital than printed content. There are, however, specific eBook copyright laws that exist to counteract such blatant piracy.

As per this copyright law, the author remains the sole owner of the copyright, and they have the right to reproduce or distribute the eBook unless express permission has been granted. 

2.  Digital Rights Management (DRM):

Digital Rights Management (DRM laws) extends further protections to curb acts of illegal copying, sharing, or selling of the eBook. Further, DRM protection helps enforce the license accompanying an eBook when sold. 

Some of the various DRM solutions that aid in protecting against piracy include:

  • Adobe encryption
  • Watermarking
  • Downlink expiration dates 

When it comes to light that content from a copyrighted eBook has been illegally posted on a website or other internet platform, the content owner can submit a DMCA takedown notice to the website service provider demanding the infringing content be removed or taken down from a website.

It remains mandatory that a particular book remains registered with the US Copyright Office to initiate legal action if an author discovers the content of a specific eBook is being copied, sold, or otherwise distributed without express permission. 

The steps to copyright a particular eBook remain pretty easy to comprehend, and the overall process is not cumbersome.

To register eBook copyright, follow these steps:

  • Type the URL www.copyright.gov in your browser and click on the top left box ‘register.’
  • Once on the Registration Portal, select the Literary Works option.
  • Now, click the Register a Literary Work link on the right.

  • An individual will be directed to the user login page. For someone visiting the courier for the first time, a user ID and password can be created through registration by clicking ‘If you are a new user, click here to register,’ which is located in a small type at the bottom of the gray box.

  • After logging in, click on the Register a Work’ standard application’ link on the left.
  • Now, click on the ‘Start Registration’ tab at the top.
  • In the case of the Type of Work dropdown, select ‘literary work.’
  • Click the agreement box, followed by the continue button.
  • Click ‘New’
  • Select the Title Type from the dropdown, type in the eBook’s title, and save.
  • Fill in the other required fields.
  • Pay the requisite registration fee, which remains nominal.
  • Upload the ebook or zip file. In case if an individual is planning on also publishing a print edition, they are required to ship a print version of the book to the copyright office. 

A copyright page of an eBook is likely to include the date of publication, the author’s name or pen name, and the term ‘All rights reserved.’ It may seem like a minimalist version of a copyright page.

However, creating a comprehensive one goes a long way in terms of protecting the rights of the copyright holder in addition to giving it a more professional outlook.

Also, a thoughtfully written copyright page sets the tone that only the author takes matters about infringement seriously upfront; this is likely to discourage book piracy.

Essentially, the copyright page will directly follow the title page in the eBook. At the same time, there is no compulsion for the exact order of the copyright page elements like copyright symbol.

Generally, the copyright symbol should appear toward the top of the page. The international standard book number (ISBN), a catalog number helping to identify a specific format or edition of a book in circulation, should appear near the bottom.

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