Copyright is an important issue that all writers need to familiarise themselves with, for their own protection. Copyright applies to many different forms of creativity, but we are primarily interested here in how it applies to written works: also referred to as literary works. Copyright is a form of legal protection for the creator of a written literary work. In general, it affords the creator exclusive rights to (or rights to authorise someone else to): reproduce the work derive new work based upon the original distribute, sell, rent, lease or lend copies of the work perform the work (in the case of theatrical plays, screenplays, songs etc). It is therefore generally an infringement of the copyright of a literary work to do any of these things (and more) without the written permission of the copyright owner. In this case, copyright applies to 'original' written works. This may include books, novels, instruction manuals, song lyrics or even newspaper articles. Copyright does not

apply to names, slogans, titles or individual phrases. These may, however, be trademarked, which is different to copyrighting. The United Kingdom Patent Office defines an 'original' work: "A work can only be original if it is the result of independent creative effort. It will not be original if it has been copied from something that already exists. If it is similar to something that already exists but there has been no copying from the existing work either directly or indirectly, then it may be original." The USA has similar definitions which should be checked if more relevant to you. All countries have their own similar but subtly different copyright laws and you should check the one most applicable to you. Although you are free to assert your copyright ownership on your own original works by using the familiar ¬© symbol, the year of creation and your name, it is also advisable to register the work in your name to ensure…

What sounds like a good idea can sometimes be a major mistake, and mistakes in submission may be merely embarassing or may be early career-wreckers. Before you make your first submission, study this list. While these may not be the most common errors, they are common enough and can be damaging. Some may waste your time and money, while others can send your submission straight to the "reject" pile, if not the trash bin! 1. Do NOT EVER pay ANYONE to "publish" your work unless you really, really want to get into the self-publishing business. If you do want to self-publish, you must read as much literature as you can on self-publishing, choose a good printer, learn about filing for copyright and getting an ISBN number, and develop a business, marketing, and distribution plan. Otherwise, remember that publishers are supposed to pay YOU for the privilege of making your work public. For more on this topic, see our article,

How not to get burned. 2. Do NOT file for copyright on manuscripts that you are submitting to publishers. U.S. copyright laws protect works of U.S. writers the moment they are put into some tangible form. If your work is accepted by a publisher, the publisher will file for official copyright on your behalf. If you file ahead of time, you're sending a clear message to the editor: "I don't trust you. I think you might steal my work." Stealing manuscripts and ideas is so rare it's not worth worrying about (read The Sobering Saga of Myrtle the Manuscript, by Tappan King to see why editors never have to steal manuscripts). Filing for copyright "just in case" can actually hurt your chances of selling the manuscript because 1) it immediately dates your work and 2) it makes for legal complications if the work is accepted. For a deeper explanation, see "Copyrights and Meteorites" by Chuck Rothman on the Science Fiction and…