Skip to content

If you don’t copyright your ms …

Another thing I picked up while auditing a publishing course over the break was the statement by an instructor that “If you don’t copyright your manuscript, it is in the public domain.”

Obviously, this is incorrect on a number of levels, and again illustrates how difficult copyright law is to understand even for people who are professional writers and teachers of publishing (ie outside of law schools).

But I’m interested in how many things the sentence could actually mean, for instance:

1/ If you don’t affix a copyright notice on your work, people may not think you mind if they borrow from it without attribution.  (Either you won’t sue for infringement or you are intending to grant an implied license for others to use the work for any purposes.)

2/ If you don’t register your copyright work, you will have more trouble asserting your copyright in court and will want to register before you commence infringement proceedings.

Anything else it could mean?