It is also important to remember that this blog post is not legal advice. For more information, seek a legal professional.
What is Copyright?
Copyright is an intellectual property right that is automatically granted once a work is created. Anything that is written is copyrighted including, for example, this blog post! I wrote it and, therefore, no one else can steal my words without my permission.
How do I apply for copyright?
You don’t need to apply or register your writing in order to enjoy the protections of copyright. Because copyright is automatically granted when a work is created, you automatically own the copyright of the manuscript. You may have seen the © symbol on written works but whether you choose to use this or not does not affect your rights: you still own the copyright even if you don’t display the copyright symbol!
If you create your work in one country, generally the copyright is applied throughout the world. There are international agreements that recognise copyright rules across the glove and offer authors the same protections.
That said, in the US, you may consider registering your work as it gives additional protections if someone does decide to infringe your copyright. Read more about it on the US Copyright Office’s website.
How long does copyright last?
Copyright lasts for the length of the author’s lifetime plus a set amount of time beyond the author’s death. This can vary so do check this out. For example, in the UK and Australia, a written work’s copyright lasts for 70 years after the author’s death.
An editor’s impact
When you send your manuscript to an editor, your work is protected because of copyright. An editor cannot run away with your manuscript and use it as their own! You can feel safe knowing that any reputable editor (I count myself as one!) will not steal your hard work!
- UK government advice
- US government advice
- Australian government advice
- Society of Authors advice [PDF]
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