Booknomics

Publishing, Print on Demand, Self-publishing in India from Pothi.com Team

Copyright O’ Copyright! (Part II)

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You may want to read the first part on this topic before reading this one: Copyright O’ Copyright (Part I)

In the previous post, we have seen what copyright and copyright law mean to an author. Now let us look at some of the common queries people have in mind.

Should I register a copyright?

As mentioned in the previous post

  • Copyright registration is optional. Copyright comes into existence as soon as the work is penned down. Whether or not copyright has been registered, the protection under copyright law in available.
  • Registration is a prima facie evidence in case of a dispute, but it does not guarantee that the dispute will always be in your favour.

Give the above, there isn’t a strong case for registering copyright. However, if you have either the time for paperwork or the money for an Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer to do the work on your behalf and you absolutely want to do everything in your power to protect your copyright, you can go for registration. If you are doing in yourself, the details are available on Copyright Office’s website. Otherwise you may want to contact a local IP lawyer. Typically you may have to spend upwards of Rs. 10,000 for a lawyer’s services.

Is it necessary to register a copyright before publishing a book?

No. The copyright protection comes into affect as soon as you have penned down the work. Hence, it is not necessary to register a copyright.

Is it necessary to register a copyright before publishing a book on Pothi.com?

No

But wouldn’t it be a proof that the book is indeed mine?

Not really. Copyright office does not go around scouting for whether the work has been written/published by anyone else originally. They only give around 30 days for someone to raise objection and then go ahead with registration process. That is hardly a guarantee that only original work passes the process. In fact, it is probably for the same reason that in a court case, a copyright registration is not a conclusive proof and other proofs can actually take the decision of the court against the registration.

Would the name of my book be protected under copyright?

No, title, sub-title, short phrases would not generally be covered under copyright.

If there is a book already published under a name and I give the same name to my book, would I be violating somebody’s copyright?

In general, the name of the book is not protected by copyright and if you browse through a book store, you will see several books with the same name, especially non-fiction ones. So, just because a book with the same name has been published earlier, does not mean that your book can’t have the name.

But you should keep in mind that the name could be trademarked (especially famous ones) and if that is the case, it should not be used without proper permissions.

Also, you should avoid using the names of famous books. Because it not only about copyrights or trademarks all the time. Other laws also have to be taken in to account. If you use a very famous name or refer to a very famous name somehow, the originator of that name may sue you for trying to mislead people. Copyright may or may not have been violated, but consumer protection laws may come in to play!

So, the safe thing to do is not to bother too much about the name being used earlier, but definitely stand clear off the famous ones.

Somebody told me I should not use content from Internet. It will be a violation of copyright. Why? Aren’t they in public domain?

No. Public availability of content does not mean it is in public domain. Unless some content is clearly declared to be in public domain, you should assume that you can not use it without permission. A lot of content is available on the Internet, where the copyright and licensing information may not be available. In such cases, make it a point to get proper permission from the content owner to reproduce the content or use it in other ways. If you can’t get the permission, do not use it.

I have used images from the Internet in my book. Is that a problem?

Most likely it IS a problem. Like with written content, just because images are available publicly, it does not mean that they can be used freely by anyone. You must check the licensing information or get explicit permission from the owner before using images from Internet.

I have an ISBN for my book? Does it mean my copyright is protected?

This is a surprisingly common confusion people have. So, to clarify, ISBN has nothing to do with copyright. ISBN is only a cataloging system for books and it makes no statement whatsoever about copyright. Your literary work is protected by copyright laws irrespective of whether or not your book has an ISBN. If you want to register a copyright, you can do so, but getting an ISBN is not equivalent to registering a copyright.

Where do I read more about the copyright and related laws in India?

Copyright office has a fairly comprehensive website. While reading through the laws and rules might be infeasible for normal mortals (read non-lawyers), the handbook of copyright law explains things in a language that can be followed even by the novices.

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