Do you need to put a copyright notice before submitting your manuscript?

I got an email the other day from a potential submitter, and I thought that it would be wise, and time-saving of me, to post it here on the blog.

…do I need to put a copyright notice on the cover page? Or should I put it in the footer of the document? Which do you prefer?

Well, to tell you the truth I don’t prefer either way. Because, really, I don’t like seeing it on the manuscript anywhere. Period. And it goes the same for the majority of publishers. Why? Because it shows a lack of professionalism, a lack of knowledge in the publishing industry, and a lack of trust for the publisher.

Trust me, no publisher in their right mind would steal your work. None. If an editor really likes your work that much, they’ll contract you. It’s too much work and hassle to try to steal someone’s work – especially when you’ve got a stack of a hundred other willing writers who will do the work for you with their own story.

Below is an excerpt from the U.S. Copyright Office:

When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”

Another excellent article was written by Brad Templeton, titled “10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained.”

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for this. I wondered about copyright myself a couple times but since it wasn’t ever listed as one of the items to include with the submission I didn’t worry about it much. Still, it’s a nice to know more about it.

  2. Great article. I wish it was more common knowledge, though. My motion graphics class and instructor had to suffer the embarrassment of one of our classmates asking an industry professional about whether or not it’s okay to use Batman in a personal work to sell. She felt that it was hers “because she made it.”

    So it’s important to note that, while you may be great at Lord of the Rings fanfics and such, it’s not okay to make a profit off of it unless you’re under contract with the copyright owner.

  3. This was helpful because every article or book that I have read on copyright suggest that you always strike a copyright notice, even when submiting a work. It was and had been my understanding that this was necessary to protect my work. Even a photographer has to either use copywrited paper or strike his mark to protect his work. So from now on I’ll leave the C-off my submisisons.

    Thanks again

  4. Should we leave the C off our submissions or just not copyright it in the first place?

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