Category Archives: Copyright

What Could Surrendering Your Copyright Potentially Cost You?

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

The CEO Magazine recently published a piece I wrote for their 8020 Blog titled Your Book is an Asset … if You Own the Copyright, and it generated many comments from both authors and publishers alike … some more passionate than others. The consensus was that it was too simplified, as though a more complicated explanation of copyright is somehow more acceptable to the masses. I disagree, hence this additional blog post on the topic.

Here is my personal belief: when people are unable to explain their topic matter to others in layman’s terms with ease, then they are either hiding something or they don’t fully understand it themselves. This is why I’m cautious when it comes to publishing contracts that are filled with complicated legalese. It is also why I challenge those who try to defend such contracts by saying, “It’s not that simple. There are different types of licenses. There are several factors to consider. Authors may be relinquishing some of their control, but not necessarily their copyright; or, if they are giving up their copyright, it may be only temporarily, not permanently.” And on and on.

Semantics. Legalese is confusing by design. I could utilize immoderately byzantine phraseology and labyrinthine reasoning with the best of them if I chose to, but that rather defeats the purpose of communication, don’t you think? 

I’d rather be clear and helpful. So, let’s keep it simple. Because, at the end of the day, it’s unnecessary to complicate this.

COPYRIGHT SIMPLIFIED (UNDERSTANDING PUBLISHING CONTRACTS)

  cop·y·right
/ˈkäpēˌrīt/

  noun
noun: copyright; plural noun: copyrights
1. the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film,   or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
“he issued a writ for breach of copyright”
* a particular literary, artistic, or musical work that is covered by copyright.

  adjective
adjective: copyright
1. protected by copyright.
“permission to reproduce photographs and other copyright material”

  verb
verb: copyright; 3rd person present: copyrights; past tense: copyrighted; past participle:
copyrighted; gerund or present participle: copyrighting
1. secure copyright for (material).

As the original creator of your manuscript, you own 100 percent of all of the rights to reproduce, publish, sell, and distribute your words in whatever manner you see fit. Your manuscript belongs to you and you alone—from the moment you write it. It is only when you decide that you want to publish your manuscript into book format with the hopes that you’ll earn some money (or educate people, or entertain people, or whatever your personal reasoning is for publishing it) that some or all of the copyright ownership of that work might shift to someone else, depending on which publication method you choose. In other words, you might take a few different routes toward having your book published, and each of these book publishing methods affects your copyright ownership a little differently.

It is vitally important that you review a publishing contract in full before you ever sign it; and, if the contract before you is filled with a bunch of hard-to-understand language, then ask the questions you need to ask to ensure that you fully understand the agreement you’re about to enter into. Hold the company accountable for explaining it to you and putting you at ease. You have that right as one of their clients.

TRADITIONAL (TRADE) PUBLISHERS

Some authors will submit their manuscripts to a traditional (trade) publisher for consideration in the hopes that it will be published free of charge to them. What they might not realize is that whoever is paying for the publication of a book is the one who ends up with primary control over that book. Trade publishers don’t pick up the bill simply out of the kindness of their hearts. They are business people who are buying a product to try to turn a profit for themselves, and that “product” is the copyright ownership of your manuscript (whether permanent or temporary, whether full or partial—it varies with each contract and each publisher).

And fair enough! If I was paying for the whole thing, assuming all financial risk and responsibility for the project myself, then I would want majority control and ownership, too. That’s the only way I would be able to earn a decent return on my investment. So, this isn’t a criticism of the publishing model itself. It’s simply intended to educate authors about the true implication of publishing through this type of publisher. If someone else is paying for it, they own it. They control it. Plain and simple.

In this business model, writers usually retain only the basic publishing rights that recognize them as the author of the book and allow them to be paid a small percentage of the retail price in royalties (usually only up to 10 percent per copy sold, but it varies). The trade publisher keeps the rest of the profits because the trade publisher owns the book. Thus, as the owner of the book, that trade publisher also reserves the right to sell off additional reproductive (a.k.a. subsidiary) rights for additional profit down the road.

VANITY PUBLISHERS (UNSUPPORTED SELF-PUBLISHING FOR “INDIE” AUTHORS)

Authors who choose the vanity publishing route usually retain 100 percent ownership of their written words; however, if the vanity publisher has produced the cover artwork for them, (nine times out of ten, in my personal experience) that company usually retains the copyright of that artwork. This means that authors must always go through the vanity publisher to have their marketing materials and books printed.

A contract with a vanity publisher will usually also give that publisher non-exclusive online distribution rights throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, and possibly the whole world. All this means is that the publisher reserves the right to sell and distribute copies of the book through its various channels for the duration of the contract; however, this is a non-exclusive contract; therefore, the author (and any other distributor designated by the author) is also free to sell copies of the book within those regions. If it were an exclusive contract, only the publisher would be allowed to sell the book online within those regions.

HYBRID PUBLISHERS (PROFESSIONALLY SUPPORTED SELF-PUBLISHING)

Last but not least, authors can also choose to publish through a supportive self-publishing house (a.k.a. hybrid publisher) where they will retain 100 percent copyright ownership of both their words and their artwork. Much like the contracts with vanity publishers, a contract with a supportive self-publishing house would also include non-exclusive online distribution rights worldwide for a specified term. This gives the authors much greater exposure without limiting their ability to sell wholesale author copies on their own wherever they choose to sell them.

WHAT COULD SURRENDERING YOUR COPYRIGHT POTENTIALLY COST YOU?

Eventually, once you’re selling lots of books and making a name for yourself with the general population, you’ll begin to see the true value of retaining majority (i.e., FULL!) copyright ownership—because this is when more business people will come knocking and asking to buy additional reproductive rights to your book. Maybe someone in Quebec will want to purchase the exclusive French language rights to your title so he or she can be the only one to reproduce, print, and distribute it in French to that region’s Francophone population for a profit. Maybe others will want to buy the exclusive North American film rights so that they can adapt the book for film in this region.

You can “divvy up” the rights to a book in so many different ways that it would be impossible to list them all here, but this gives you a very basic idea. It is simplified to provide an easier understanding.

What are all these rights worth? In any industry, a thing is worth what someone will pay for it. It could be worth millions to the primary owner of the book, so it’s a good idea to retain as much, if not ALL, of that ownership as you can right from the start. Then, when the movie producers and foreign publishers start calling, hire an intellectual property attorney to help you determine the best price for each sale of rights to each different buyer.

“I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” BY DOLLY PARTON … A PRICELESS COPYRIGHT

Whether you’ve written a book, a movie script, or a song, the value of retained copyright ownership is much the same. It’s all intellectual property that can generate additional income through the sale of subsidiary rights.

Most, if not all of us are familiar with Whitney Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s song titled “I Will Always Love You.” What you may not be aware of is that, as the copyright owner of that song, Dolly gets paid each time a copy of it is made. She doesn’t have to lift a finger, and she gets paid.

Millions of copies of Whitney Houston’s cover of that song were made. And Dolly got paid on every one of them.

Retained copyright ownership of your intellectual property is potentially priceless. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Related reading: Your Intellectual Property is Priceless! 

Related reading: Authors, Keep Your Copyrights. You Earned Them. 

Related reading: Managing Intellectual Property in the Book Publishing Industry

Related reading: Copyright Ownership: Who Owns What?

Related reading: Subsidiary Rights: Acquisition & Licensing

Change is the Only Constant: Welcome to the New PPG Publisher’s Blog!

Coming soon! Watch for this new book around the world in early August 2014!

Coming soon! Watch for this new book around the world in early August 2014!

First and foremost, thank you to every PPG Publisher’s Blog subscriber for your patience while we transitioned from one blog service provider to another when the former discontinued this particular product from their offering. (Such is life on the Internet.) And hello to all the new subscribers who have joined us here. Glad to have you on board!

While it’s taken me a little while to get back into the swing of things on this blog, not to worry! I haven’t forgotten you; and, in fact, I’ve still been writing much helpful content regarding book publishing, sales, and marketing to help you all succeed with your own books.

As you already know, in 2013 I launched How to Publish a Book in Canada . . . and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit! to address the frequently asked questions that are specific to Canadian individuals and businesses that wish to publish their work. This book was (and continues to be) a tremendous learning tool for many—so much so that it became a bestseller on Amazon within its first month and a half and has spawned even more questions from aspiring authors all across North America and even “across the pond” in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. You’ve asked and the Polished Publishing Group (PPG) has listened. Introducing How to Publish a Bestselling Book . . . and Sell It WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price! which has been written for all the aspiring authors and business professionals who wish to produce a book that presents you as professional writers and industry experts within your fields.

Whether you’re writing a fictional novel, a cookbook, or a “how to” book, publishing a book is a business venture. All authors are entrepreneurs. And the first thing every entrepreneur should ask himself or herself is this: do I offer the best value in my field, or do I offer the best price? This is a vitally important question to ask of yourself before you begin the publishing process of your book. Why? Because, if you offer the best value in your field, you need to promote your business (and everything related to it—including your book!), using value-based selling. If you offer the best price, you need to promote your book using price-based selling. Consistency is the key to long-term success no matter what industry you’re in.

This new book, due to be published around the world in early August 2014, contains answers to pretty much every question you could possibly have about how to publish and sell a truly professional-quality book all around the world. Further to that, it contains an elementary introduction to international copyright (graciously written for us by Ian Gibson, Esq., an attorney who is licensed in the State of California) to provide aspiring authors with a solid starting point of reference that answers all of your basic copyright questions and a couple more, including, “How does working with a publisher in another country affect my copyright?”

By the time you’re done reading this book, hopefully you’ll have gained some valuable insight into what it truly takes to produce a saleable book and how to market it to your desired demographic. Better yet, you’ll have all the tools you need to get that book into the hands of those desired customers all around the world, land on a coveted bestseller list in your area, and earn a healthy profit in the process. That is my wish for you.

Sincerely,

Kim Staflund
Founder and publisher of Polished Publishing Group (PPG)

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Writers Forum: http://writersforum.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Self-Publishing versus Supported Self-Publishing

So, you’re looking at taking the self-publishing route. This is a wise decision in terms of maintaining copyright ownership of your book. Here at PPG, we agree with your choice wholeheartedly.
  
One suggestion, if you do decide to go this alone, is that you have a detailed conversation with whichever graphic designer you choose to work with to ensure you’re maintaining copyright ownership of your book cover in addition to the story itself. Many times, graphic designers assume they will keep the copyright ownership of whatever artwork they create on your behalf, and authors unwittingly agree to this simply because they didn’t know to have the conversation upfront, and/or they didn’t put a proper contract in place with that designer. I already talked about this a bit in an earlier blog entry titled Who Owns The Artwork? In the comments section of this blog entry, you’ll see many replies from graphic designers who believe they should be paid significant amounts of money if they are expected to give up their rights. This is more common than you may think and can cause problems for authors. By working with PPG, you will eliminate this problem altogether because we only hire artists who agree with our stance on copyright ownership: it belongs to the paying author.
   
One of the biggest benefits of allowing a company like PPG to be your personal project manager throughout the self-publishing process is that we already have all of these types of contracts in placewith experienced professional copy editors, designers, proofreaders, and indexersand these contracts have all been written to protect the copyright ownership of the self-publishing author. Another benefit is that we have already pre-screened all these people on your behalf. We make sure they all have at least five years’ experience in their respective fields. Because of this, you can be assured that you will end up with trade publisher quality at the end of this publishing process. And that’s what you wantyou want professional quality if you expect to compete in the marketplace against other trade quality books.
 

  
Another benefit to working with PPG is that we’ve been through this publishing process several times over, so we’ve fine-tuned the process to ensure it runs as quickly and seamlessly for you as possibleto get your book out to the public sooner than you can on your own. We negotiate all the contracts and take care of the administrative aspect of everything on your behalf so you can focus on the writing and marketing. This is a huge advantage as there is so much to do, and the task can become quite overwhelming and daunting along the way when doing it alone.
 
Whatever you decide, we wish you all the success in the world. And, if you do decide to work with PPG, we will be honoured to support you in self-publishing your professional-quality book.
  
  
    
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our
book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today.

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2012 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Copyright Simplified

First and foremost, let’s recap what we discussed in an earlier blog entry titled Protecting Your Copyright by explaining exactly what copyright is. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary describes copyright as:
 
Noun
The exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work)

 
As the original creator of your manuscript, you own 100% of all the rights to reproduce, publish, sell, and/or distribute your words in whatever manner you see fit. Your manuscript belongs to you and you only from the moment you write it.
 
Now you’ve decided you want to publish that manuscript into book format with the hopes you’ll earn some money (or educate people, or entertain people, or whatever your personal reasoning for publishing it). There are a few different routes you might take toward having your book published, and each of these book publishing methods affects your copyright ownership a little differently.
 
Some authors will submit their manuscripts to a traditional (trade) publisher for consideration in the hopes it will be published free of charge to them. What they may not realize is that whoever is paying for the publication of a book is the one who owns the primary rights to that book. Trade book publishers don’t agree to pick up the bill simply out of the kindness of their hearts. They are business people who are buying a product to try to turn a profit for themselves, and that “product” is the primary copyright ownership of your manuscript. In this business model, writers retain only basic “publishing rights” that recognize them as the author of the book and pay them a small percentage of the retail price in royalties (usually only up to 10% per copy sold). The trade publisher keeps the rest because the trade publisher owns the book. And, as the owner of the book, that trade publisher also reserves the right to sell off additional rights for additional profit down the road.
 
Authors who choose the vanity publishing route usually retain 100% ownership of their written words; however, if the vanity publisher has produced the cover artwork for them, the vanity publisher usually (nine times out of 10) retains the rights to that artwork. This means authors must always go through the vanity publisher to have their marketing materials and books printed.
 
A contract with a vanity publisher will usually also give that publisher “non-exclusive online distribution rights” throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, and possibly even Asia. All this means is that the publisher reserves the right to sell/distribute copies of the book through their online channels (i.e. Amazon.com) for the duration of the contract; however, because it is a “non-exclusive” contract, the author (and any other distributor designated by the author) is also free to sell copies of the book within those regions, too. If it was an “exclusive” contract, then that publisher would be the only one allowed to sell the book online within those regions.
 
Last but not least, authors can also choose to publish through a supportive self-publishing house like PPG where they will retain 100% copyright ownership of both their words and their artwork. That said, much like the contracts with vanity publishers, a contract with a supportive self-publishing house will also include “non-exclusive online distribution rights” throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, and possibly even Asia for a specified term. This gives authors much greater exposure worldwide without limiting their ability to sell wholesale author copies on their own.
 
For a more detailed comparison of these three book publishing models, click here.
 
Eventually, once you’re selling lots of books and making a name for yourself with the general population, you’ll begin to see the true value of retaining majority copyright ownership … because this is when more business people will come knocking and asking to buy additional rights to your book. Maybe someone in Europe will want to purchase the “exclusive French language rights” to your title so he or she can be the only one to reproduce, print, and distribute it in French to the Francophone population for a profit. Maybe others will want to buy the “exclusive North American film rights” so they can adapt the book for film in this region. You can divvy up the rights to a book in so many different ways, it would be impossible to list them all here. But this gives you a very basic idea.
 
What are all these rights worth? In any industry, a thing is worth what someone will pay for it. It could be worth millions to the primary owner of the book, so it’s a good idea to retain as much of that ownership as you can right from the start. And then, when the movie producers and foreign publishers start calling, hire a copyright lawyer to help you determine the best price for each sale of rights.
  
  
 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our
book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today.

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2012 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

A Self-Publisher’s Checklist

There are several little odds and ends involved with the Canadian book publishing process—some obvious, others not so obvious. PPG has created the below checklist to help you keep track of what needs to be done:

What PPG Will Do For You  What You Must Do For Yourself
Supplies you will require   In order to publish a book with PPG, you must have access to a computer, email, and the Internet. You must also have a working knowledge of and access to Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader (for viewing .PDF proofs of your books).
Writing your book   You can hire one of PPG’s experienced ghostwriters to write your story in collaboration with you… … or you can write it yourself. Either way, whether you write your story or have someone write it for you, it must be completed in Microsoft Word. Click here for details on how to properly format all your book files.
Protecting your copyright   It is up to you to protect your own copyright before you send your book to any publisher/printer. Please click here for straightforward instructions on how to do so.
Choosing your book publishing package   Review the list of PPG Self-Publishing Services and choose the publishing package and/or À la carte services that are best for you. From there, visit our Online Store to make your purchase and begin the publishing process.
ISBN numbers/barcodes and legal deposits You only need an ISBN number/barcode if you plan to sell copies of your book. PPG will apply for all ISBN numbers and obtain barcodes on your behalf. You will be indicated as both the author and the publisher on the ISBN application so the book is linked to the true copyright owner rather than PPG. As the publisher/copyright owner of the book, it is up to you to submit one or two hard copies of it to Legal Deposit at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) upon publication.
Filling out/managing Vendor Agreements, Publishing Agreements, and Production Questionnaires     PPG will manage all Vendor Agreements with work-for-hire vendors (such as graphic designers, editors, ghostwriters, copywriters, indexers, etc.) on your behalf. Our agreements are designed to ensure: you receive the high quality service you are paying for in a timely fashion; and you maintain creative control and copyright ownership of the book/artwork that is being designed for you. It is up to you to read the PPG Publishing Agreement & Production Questionnaire in full so you understand the partnership you are entering into with PPG and our work-for-hire vendors.
Submitting Your Manuscript     Your manuscript must be written in Word.doc format and submitted to PPG via email. Please click here for more specific details.
Editing PPG will arrange for one of our qualified editors to copy edit your raw manuscript before it is sent to a designer for typesetting. You will have the opportunity to view the edited version and give final approval before it moves onto the design stage.  
Fact checking and indexing Non-fiction readers expect to find an index in the back of your book. They also expect your information to be completely accurate. You can hire fact checkers and indexers through PPG to help you with this.
Interior design PPG will arrange for a qualified graphic designer to typeset your book’s interior based on the input we receive from you on the above-mentioned Production Questionnaire. (We begin by designing your book’s interior because the spine size of your cover is determined by the final page count of your book.) In addition to answering all the questions on the above-mentioned Production Questionnaire, you are required to send your interior files to us in the manner indicated on our File Prep and File Transfer webpages.
Cover design PPG will arrange for a qualified graphic designer to create your book cover based on input we receive from you on the above-mentioned Production Questionnaire. In addition to answering all the questions on the above-mentioned Production Questionnaire, you are required to send us any related graphics/files in the manner indicated on our File Prep and File Transfer webpages.
Copyright page     PPG will insert a pre-designed copyright page into your manuscript before it is typeset. (All we ask of you is that you leave a blank page in the front matter of your manuscript to accommodate that copyright page.) It is up to you to proofread this copyright page to ensure the ISBN number(s) and all other information is correct.
Proofreading Once your book has been written, edited, and designed, a professional proofreader will review it one last time to ensure each of the book’s components fit together properly. All editors, designers, and proofreaders will do their part to help you polish and perfect your book along the way, but you are ultimately responsible to ensure it is completely correct before signing off on the final proof. It is recommended (and wise) for you to read everything over one more time before signing your final proof approval—not only your recent corrections, but everything—even after the professional proofread has been completed.
Printing hard copies of your published book  It is only possible to order hard copies of your book(s) through PPG if you are subscribed to receive our POD distribution service. Hard copies of your book(s) will only be printed if ordered through the PPG online store. If you would like to receive hard copies of your published book, it is up to you to purchase them either through PPG (at your special author discount) or from the printer of your choice. We do not include hard copies in our publishing packages as that would drive the price up unnecessarily. It is best for you, in the long run, to obtain quotes from various printers and go with the best price you receive. (We can recommend a few great printers to help you out with this.)
Complimentary & Promotional copies      It is customary for the publisher (in this case the “self-publisher”) to send out one complimentary copy of their book to each vendor who helped them publish it (i.e. the copy editor, designer, indexer, proofreader, photographer, illustrator, etc.) as a special thank you. It is also common for publishers to send promotional copies to other individuals/organizations who agree to promote the book on their behalf (i.e. publicists).
Review copies   It is up to you to research the book reviewers in your area and send them each a complimentary copy of your book. (This is not mandatory. It’s just a suggestion you may want to consider.)
Library copies   As a self-publisher, it is up to you to produce and submit a flyer or small catalogue of your book(s) to all the libraries you wish to appear in. The only way libraries learn about new titles is through the flyers/catalogues they receive from publishers.
Distribution Your book(s) will be available for sale through LSI’s online distribution channels and our very own online bookstore for as long as you are subscribed to receive our POD online distribution service. As an added bonus, we’ll also submit your book files to Google Books at no extra cost to you! Click here to see examples of how your book could appear on Google Books, Amazon.com, and the PPG Online Bookstore! You are responsible for the distribution of any additional copies of your book that you purchase on your own.
Royalties You will be paid royalties on all of your PPG books that are sold through the PPG online bookstore and/or through PPG’s online POD distribution channels (as detailed in the PPG Publishing Agreement). You won’t receive royalties for any copies of your book that you purchase at an author discount through PPG for resale by yourself, nor will you receive royalties for any other copies of your book that you have printed elsewhere for resale by yourself.
Sales and Marketing PPG will continually strive to drive more and more traffic to our website, online bookstore, forum, and blog; and we will also include a brief write-up about your book in the “Coming Soon to PPG!” category of this blog. It is up to you to manage all other sales and marketing of your book, but we’ll do our best to provide all kinds of ideas to help point you in the right direction.

* * *    * * *   * * *

PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Writers Forum: http://writersforum.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Protecting Your Copyright

What is copyright? Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com) describes copyright as: Noun The exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work) How do I obtain copyright ownership of my work?In Canada, you own the copyright to your work as soon as you create it. There is no legal requirement to register it. How do I protect my copyright? This is, perhaps, the real question writers are asking when they refer to the copyright of their books, and the answer is: by proving you are the true copyright owner of the work. Protecting your copyright can be done in a very straightforward and cost-effective way. It’s as simple as sealing a copy of your completed work in an envelope and mailing it to yourself via registered mail. When the date-stamped package is returned to you, keep it sealed and stored in a fireproof container. In the unlikely event that someone else ever tries to claim copyright ownership of your work after the fact, you will have the date-stamped proof of your ownership to fall back on.

* * *    * * *   * * *

PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Writers Forum: http://writersforum.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Who Owns the Artwork?

What is Graphic Design?In addition to my book publishing background, I’ve also worked in the world of print advertising sales for many years. What these two industries have in common is that each business (whether it be a newspaper, magazine, phone directory, or publisher) creates artwork for its respective clients as part of its overall service offering.

A company’s artwork policy can vary: some believe that once you’ve paid for and published a creative, the copyright belongs to you, and you can reproduce it at your discretion as part of your own marketing campaign; others believe that any artwork they have created for you belongs to them and can only be reused with their permission at an additional charge. Having been on both sides of this coinas the service provider and the paying clientit is my opinion that the copyright for a creative belongs to the paying client, and all the high-resolution artwork should be returned to that client upon receipt of payment. I won’t delve into any examples related to print advertising here, but I will discuss my experience with book publishing.

Each time I write a new book, I tie it into the preceding book(s) by including graphics of my past book cover(s) at the end of the story along with an updated author bio. I reproduce this promotional copy on my author website and printed flyers, as well. This helps me to sell my backlist along with my frontlist at signings and various other events.

On one particular occasion, I wanted to create a large poster with all my book covers included on it. I intended to use this as an eye-catching display at a craft sale. Great idea, right? Unfortunately, one of the book publishing companies I had published through would not release a high-resolution copy of my book cover to me. “We own it,” they said. “It belongs to us.”

It seems to me, this is a “nobody wins” sort of scenario. This company was not keeping my artwork with the intention of ever using it themselves. They were simply keeping the files to prevent someone else (me) from ever using them.

I founded PPG with the philosophy that self-publishers are not only entitled to 100% copyright ownership of their written words, but they are also entitled to 100% copyright ownership of their artwork. (After all, they are the ones paying for the production of their books.) Rather than storing their print-ready cover and interior files ourselves, we return everything to our self-publishers (working files, finished files, everything). This enables our clients to print extra copies of their books wherever they choose, and it allows them to produce marketing materials at their discretion. To me, this is an “everybody wins” sort of scenario because each time they display their book covers with one of our logos on it, it helps to promote them, the designer, and PPG. That’s how it should be, wouldn’t you agree?

Again, I’m open to hearing from my fellow writers and self-publishers on this one. What is your experience regarding artwork copyright? What’s your opinion on this topic?

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