Being in the book publishing, and graphics industry, one comes up against copyright all the time. When you create a piece of writing or artwork that is original, specifically from your thoughts, crafted, designed and written or illustrated by you without the use of any copying methods, then you own the right to that piece of work. You are entitled to copyright it – you own the whole portion of your work, as you are the creator. You own it throughout your lifetime, plus it remains within your estate after your death, for another 50 years, at which time it will revert to public domain.
If you have written a book, you are entitled and should register the copyright of it. You automatically own copyright of your work, by the simple fact that you created it. If you are considering publishing your writing, you have to be aware of copyright.You would want to register your copyright of a piece of work, for your protection. If the work is not going to be published, but is in the initial stages, one form of ensuring copyright is to post a copy of the work to your home address, and keep the package sealed (until – if and when – it may be required to open in a court of law). The postmark and un tampered seal are proof of the original contents. If the work is a finished piece that is being published, the copyright can be added, such as on the book’s copyright page, or at the end of the document.
The Copyright Board of Canada at the following link has information from the Government of Canada that may be of help in understanding copyrights and registering a copyright. For those living in the United States, be sure to check out your copyright legislation.
When you are writing be wary of reproducing, copying or using anyone else’s text, illustrations or photographs, otherwise you will be in violation of their copyright, and you could face legal action. You must be original in all you write, unless you are specifically quoting a resource, and stating where the information came from, and creating a reference table. You may be able to use someone else’s work if you have ‘express written permission’ to do so, depending on their copyright message for the work. Even so, you will have to make reference to the usage. Make sure your characters are fictional, you can’t be writing about people you know or giving them character traits similar to your friends and family, as you may infringe on their right of privacy, which is another law unto itself (Privacy Act).