My Writing

Counter Opinion: You will eventually need to officially register your copyright

So, it’s been an interesting experience trying to publish my Rogue of Taurus novel with Amazon this month. The last time I published something under Kindle Direct Publishing was in 2017. The publishing process has changed since then. Namely, if you want to post your book anywhere else besides amazon–Wattpad, Royal Road, your own author website, serial fiction forums on Reddit–you need to register your copyright. 

Apparently, stolen stories have become such a problem on Amazon that they force you to legally prove that you own the copyright to a work before publishing it. So, how do you legally prove you own your work unless it is registered with the copyright office? I couldn’t figure that out. So, I registered with the copyright office. It was half the price of buying an ISBN number, which is the other form that amazon recognizes for proof of copyright. 

I’ve read stories of authors who have posted chapters for marketing purposes online after publishing to Kindle Direct Publishing. Years later, they updated the MS of their novel to fix typos and got hit with a copyright challenge. So, they ended up needing to purchase copyright for a book that they have had on Amazon for years. 

Funnily, enough, I also had to prove my copyright to Royal Road in order for them to allow me to publish it on their site. They allowed me to submit screenshots of various login dashboards and emails as proof but I still had to prove to them that I owned my story.  

Because modern technology has made it so easy to steal all sorts of information, and snatch up 80,000 word novels at the snap of your fingers, the old advice that you don’t need to register your work no longer applies. I predict within the next five years a copyright certificate is going to serve as an author’s passport for posting their work with all reputable and respected companies and websites. 

The biggest argument against registering your copyright before was that it wasn’t very useful. Most authors didn’t make enough money to make it worth taking the case to court. But the US Copyright office is opening a small claims court this year, which might make the investment of copyright registration more worthwhile than in previous years.

With websites and corporations putting the burden of proof for copyright ownership onto authors and the new protections available for authors through small claims court registering for a copyright certificate will be a convenience instead of a nuisance. 


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