eBooks Copyright Laws

By Sarah Estlund
Copyright laws, the author, the author's work
book image by Pali A from Fotolia.com

Copyright laws in the United States protect authors and their works from being misrepresented as someone else's works. A written work that is copyrighted gives the owner of the copyright exclusive rights to do just about anything with that piece of work. With the increasing popularity of the Internet and eBooks, copyright laws have had to be updated and are now subject to new interpretations.

Written Means Copyrighted

Registration with the Copyright Office is not necessary to secure a copyright. Per the definition of Copyright in the U.S. Code, "Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of original works of authorship," so anything written is automatically copyrighted. Therefore, eBooks are automatically copyrighted.

Use of Copyright Notice

Per the Berne Convention, which was signed on March 1, 1989, the use of a copyright notice is no longer necessary. Many authors choose to use the copyright notice regardless of this because it identifies them as the copyright owner. The copyright notice also shows the year of publication. The author of an eBook who wishes to copyright his work would include the following three things as confirmation the work is copyrighted: the symbol c, the year of first publication and the name of the copyright owner. An optional addition would be to add the word "Copyright" before the c and the date.

70 Years After Death

Any eBook written and published before January 1, 1978 is protected by copyright for 70 years after that author's death.


Although technically, registration is not necessary for copyright protection, it is recommended. By registering the copyright, the ownership and protection is enforceable. By registering a copyright for a written work, public record of the copyright is established. In an infringement suit, registration will make make the author eligible to receive statutory damages and attorney's fees. An author can register their eBook anytime during the life of the Copyright.


To register the copyright of an eBook, send the application form (available at ebook-site.com/ebook-copyrights.html), $30 application fee, and a copy of the eBook, which will not be returned to you. Send these three items to:

Library of Congress Copyright Office 101 Independence Avenue S.E. Washington D.C. 20559-6000