You can then upload your text if it's in the right format, which is most anything except .epub, which you'll have to convert to .zip. If your book is already printed, apply electronically for copyright and pay the $35 fee online, and then print out a shipping slip to mail along with two copies of the book to the Library of Congress. I just love the idea of my books in the U.S. Library of Congress. The site warns you that your package will be x-rayed for security reasons. I love thinking that my envelope with two books in it is so important that it scares them up on Capitol Hill.
The whole point of formal registration is to establish yourself as the copyright owner should a dispute arise. Probably one won't. But never say never. Registering your book within three months of publication gives you extra rights in case of litigation.
Copyright.gov is a great site for answering any and all copyright questions about texts, music, video, or any other sort of intellectual/artistic creations.
1. “I’ve googled myself and what’s on the Net is fragmentary and totally inaccurate!”
2. “Why have an email address and get bothersome letters from every Tom, Dick and Harry?”
3. “I’ve found my poems online – used without my permission!”
4. “Call me old-fashioned, but I favor the printed page.”
5. “On the Internet, people can get directions to my home; it’s appalling!”
Miss Moore, you once wrote, "Patient or impatient repudiating of life just repudiates itself. There is no point to it...."
Repudiating the Internet won't make it go away. Here are some facts:
- You can post correct information about yourself and your books, anytime, and quite easily, on authorsden.com. Or ask your publishers to do it.
- Seems to me that you did your share of letter-writing, sometimes 50 letters a day, but, that aside -- fewer people want to contact you than you think. Out of 350 million people in the U.S., only about 10,000 have heard of you, 150 would like to talk to you, and 100 of those are too polite to bother you. Of the remaining 50, 30 are too lazy to send an email, leaving 15 grad students who want to email you about your poems, and 5 professors of English interested not in your poems or even your sex life, but in The Dial or why you were snide to Sylvia Plath. These are the people who have always sent you letters.
- Be flattered! Some stranger liked your poems enough to type them out and post them online. Readers now needn't travel miles to a library or pay $18.95 to savor one. English teachers can instantly show your poems to their classes. Your works are being read, admired, shared and talked about, far more so than when they were first published! Isn't that why you wrote them? Perhaps you wrote them for the money? All this online chat about your "illegally" published poems will only sell more of your books.
- You got to like the printed page when you were admitted to its exclusive club of "legitimately" published writers. Before then, The Dial and The Egoist, not "legitimate" outlets, helped you amass poetic street cred and friends, published your first book, and got you the "legitimacy" you are now stuck on. Books will always exist and you can enjoy them. But no literary revolutionary should plume herself on being "old-fashioned" -- unless she's doing it to hide her fears about the new.
- Directions and maps to anyplace are available on GoogleMaps and Mapquest, so the Internet isn't picking on you. Besides, you never hid the fact that you lived in Brooklyn – as embarrassing as that must be for a native of fine Kirkwood, MO.
Oh, and, Miss Moore, until we meet again: Think of the Internet as an imaginary toad with a real garden in it!
Screenwriters have a union. Songwriters have a union. For freelance writers there’s a National Writer’s Union offering legal advice and grievance assistance to members ($120/year) -- but how many editors would cheerfully “Hire a Union Writer!”? The Author’s Guild offers members ($90/year) much the same support, plus health-insurance deals, but no self-published authors are allowed.
Now read this again and underline every snag, snafu, artificial difficulty, loophole, clusterf---, and cryin’ shame in this true story about our profession.
Then the little scamp is found out. Publisher can't sue because after publication the rights to the poems reverted to the author. Poet hasn't got a legal leg to stand on: poet did not register a Library of Congress copyright for the individual poem, and probably couldn't have afforded to, at $35 (electronic) or $45 (on paper) fee per poem, a serious artificial difficulty. From the thief they got a written confession (to show her college dean!) and a promise to pay the prize money back to the prize-givers, and that is all.
This is not even an Internet-theft story! It would have been easy and quick to catch such a thief on the Internet; just Google! Want to protect what you have on the Net? Stamp it with your choice of one of the licenses available free from Creativecommons.org.
Stuff you printed, that isn't online -- what this story shows is THAT is now the thing to sweat about!
Granted that this story is a very unusual one, because the poem made money. And it is one of only three poetry-theft stories that I have personally heard about in the past 30 years.