One of the most important issues for professional writers is also one of the least understood -- copyright law. Your ability to make a living from your writing revolves largely around your copyrights and your ability to license those rights to third parties.
For this week's "weekend reading" resources, let's brush up on some of the basics.
Know Your Copyrights -- A Legal Guide for Writers
By Howard G. Zaharoff at WritersDigest.com
This might not be the most recent resource on copyright law, but it offers a nice breakdown of some of the key copyright issues writers should understand. How do you get a copyright? How long do they last? Who owns the copyright if you collaborate with another author? These are just a few of the questions answered in this article.
Writer Beware's Copyright Guide
By Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware at SFWA.org
The Writer Beware copyright page not only offers an introduction to copyright law for authors and other writers. But, perhaps more importantly, it addresses common copyright myths. Do you think works without a copyright symbol aren't protected? Do you think making something publicly available online means the author doesn't have copyright protection? Do you think mailing something to yourself (the "poor man's copyright") offers the same legal protection as registering your copyright? If you answered "yes," you would be wrong on all counts.
Five Legal Issues All Writers Need to be Aware Of
By Jessica Meddows at LitReactor.com
This article tackles more than just copyright. It also addresses some free speech limitations you should be aware of. But on the issue of copyright, this post gives some good insight into what writers can use as opposed to only looking at the protection of their own works. Fan fiction and fair use are touched upon here.
What are some of your biggest copyright concerns as a professional writer? Have you ever had to defend your copyrighted works from unauthorized use? Share your thoughts, concerns, or stories in the comments.
Note: While I've studied media law and make it a point to be well-versed in copyright law and how it affects my business, I am not a lawyer. Nothing in this post or linked to from this post constitutes legal advice. And I strongly encourage you to meet with your own lawyer if you have copyright questions that are specific to your business, just as I would.