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How to apply for copyright

Lisa Moore, Principal, The Moore Firm, LLC:

“It’s very easy to apply for a copyright registration. You can do it online. The Copyright Office’s website is actually an excellent resource.

The process is changing. Back in the day, you had to fill out the form depending on what you were registering. The Copyright Office changed that, and they’re now utilizing one common form that can be done online. It’s much cheaper that way, $35 and you get your registration back much more quickly. If you mail in the old paper forms it takes somewhere between a year and two years to get it back, but if you do it online it’s somewhere between three and six months.

Q&A: How do you apply for copyright registration?

Q: How do you apply for copyright registration?

A: Lisa Moore, principal of The Moore Firm, LLC:

“It’s very easy to apply for a copyright registration. You can do it online. The Copyright Office’s website is actually an excellent resource.

The process is changing. Back in the day, you had to fill out the form depending on what you were registering. The Copyright Office changed that, and they’re now utilizing one common form that can be done online. It’s much cheaper that way, $35 and you get your registration back much more quickly. If you mail in the old paper forms it takes somewhere between a year and two years to get it back, but if you do it online it’s somewhere between three and six months. Copyright infringement matters have a very short statute of limitations, so it’s critically important that you register as soon as possible.

The statutory termination right: One copyright act provision your publisher hopes you never hear about

In the fall of 1977, Ralph Little had just received his Ph.D. in Elfin Studies and was beginning his first faculty job as an assistant professor at Middle Earth College. Elfin Studies was in its infancy – many universities did not even recognize it as a legitimate discipline — and there was no introductory textbook on the market. Each week Ralph prepared lecture outlines on ditto masters for the dozen intrepid undergraduates in his Elfin Studies 101. When a representative of Colossal Publishers, Inc., came by his office, Ralph, sporting the sideburns and bell-bottoms of the day, told him about his idea of writing an introduction to Elfin Studies.

Soon afterward, Colossal offered Ralph a contract to write his Introduction to Elves, for a royalty of 5 percent of Colossal’s receipts on every copy sold. The royalty sounded almost as diminutive as the subject matter. But Ralph was thrilled to become a textbook author, and the editor promised him that when the book came out, he would be invited to Colossal’s Midwestern sales meeting in Minneapolis. He signed the contract early in 1978, and the first edition was published on January 10, 1980.

Q&A: Tips on copyrighting your completed textbook

Q: “I have recently completed a textbook, and am searching for a publisher. Should I have the book copyrighted?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, author of Writing & Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide:

“You can, or the publisher can do that for you in your name. The publisher typically pays the fee and sends two finished copies to the Library of Congress when the book is out. Request that the publisher register the copyright in your name, which is normal unless you have permanently assigned copyright to the publisher. My understanding is that in signing the publishing contract you do assign exclusive copyright use to the publisher (hopefully for a specified time rather than indefinitely), after which rights can revert to the author. However, an original work is ultimately, automatically, the property of its author or creator, which is a separate function from granting rights.