Legal Issues

Get in touch with us

Is my manuscript copyright protected when I self-publish with ePublisher?

COPYRIGHT PROTECTED: YES,COPYRIGHT REGISTERED: NOT NECESSARILY, By common law, the moment you create a work it is automatically copyrighted to you. No publication, registration or any other official act is required to secure basic copyright protection. However, that doesn’t do you much legal good if someone does happen to steal your work. The only way to pursue legal action against copyright infringement is if your work is officially registered with the Copyright Office. Copyright Registration is included in our Timesaver package and can be purchased as an add-on service to any other ePublisher package. Officially registering your work with the government would allow you to sue for recovery of monetary damages if someone were to use your work illegally.

How can I tell if something I want to use in my e-book is copyright protected?

WHEN IN DOUBT, ASSUME IT’S PROTECTED, In most cases, any picture, material, text, information, quote, map, song or illustration that you did not personally create is copyright protected by the person who created and/or published the material.

Can I use a quote in my e-book without getting permission?

IT DEPENDS, Under "Fair Use," some copyright protected material can be used without permission; however, there are no clear-cut rules, only guidelines and factors to be considered. Fair use is not a right, only a defense. If you are unsure about your specific situation, please consult a legal advisor. The following four factors are used to determine fair use: 1)The purpose and character of the use, including potential commercial or nonprofit gains 2) The nature of the original copyrighted work 3) The proportion or percentage of the copyrighted material in relation to the work as a whole 4) The potential effect on the value of the copyrighted material. There is no definite rule regarding the number of lines or words that can be used without permission. Also, be aware that simply citing the source is not an alternative to obtaining permission to use the material. In general, if you are quoting a work or only using a few lines within a long book, you will likely be protected under fair use. However, unless you have written permission from the copyright holder, you should always consult a qualified professional before using copyrighted material in your e-book. You can also use a work that is considered "in the public domain," which means that a work's copyright has expired or lacks proper notice. Works in the public domain are not copyright protected and are free to use without permission. However, determining whether or not a work is truly in the public domain can be tricky due to new versions of older works, protection in countries other than the U.S., and protection under alternative laws.

How much can I rely on another work without permission?

NO CLEAR RULES, There are no clear rules as to the amount of material you can use without permission. If in doubt, you should consult a legal advisor or look into copyright law to provide more details. In general, keep the rule of “fair use” in mind, and consider how much and what part of the work you are borrowing. The more material you use, the less likely it is to be considered fair use. However, sometimes even a small amount of work proportionally can hold a lot of weight if it is an important part of the work, so the amount of text is not always the determining factor.

Which pictures can I use without permission?

THE ONES YOU’VE TAKEN, Without permission from the original photographer or copyright holder, only pictures that you have personally taken can be used without permission (unless a photo is "in the public domain" because the copyright has expired). If a picture is found in a e-book, newspaper or magazine, you cannot use the image without getting permission. Pictures and information found on the Internet are not "public domain." Most material found on the Internet is copyright protected. Additionally, photographers retain the rights to photographs they take, even if the picture is of you or a family member. You need to obtain permission from the photographer even if you purchased a print of the photograph. When in doubt, get written permission or consult a legal professional.

Does citing the source of material clear me of copyright infringement?

NO, A citation will not protect you in a court of law against a copyright case. You must obtain written permission.

How do I obtain permission, and what do I do with it?

ASK, AND KEEP DOCUMENTATION, In order to obtain permission, you can contact the copyright holder and explain what work you wish to use and for what purpose. Request written permission to use their material in your publication. Some copyright holders will provide permission for free and others might charge a fee. The copyright holder may or may not require additional credit in the e-book itself. If you cannot get a reply after several attempts, you may be able to use the material without permission, but make sure to keep all documented instances of failed attempts, and consult a legal professional to be sure. Keep the written permission in your possession, just in case you should need to prove permission for any reason in the future.

What is considered libel?

WRITTEN FALSE DEFAMATION, Libel has a variety of definitions throughout the United States depending on each state's laws; but in general, libel is considered a written, false defamation, or the publication of any untrue statement, that could cause damage to an individual or organization's character or reputation.

How can I protect myself against libel in DIY publishing?

TELL THE TRUTH, AND COVER YOUR BASES, Although truth can be used as a defense in most libel cases, it is often difficult and time-consuming (thus expensive) to prove in court. If your DIY published e-book tells a true story about events that actually occurred, the first step to protect yourself is to change the names of people and/or organizations involved. However, simply changing a single name from "Jim" to "David" is rarely enough. If an individual remains easily recognizable based on the real names of other people involved, the inclusion of real places or any other contextual clues, you can still be sued for libel. Changing the location can help create distance between your e-book and the actual events, making it less recognizable to the real people close to the situation. Additionally, you can use an author pen name to further erase a recognizable trail back to you and, most importantly, the real person whose reputation is at stake. For instance, imagine an individual reader knows you, the author, in real life. If you use your real name to make claims about your husband's doctor — even if you change your husband's name and the doctor's name — the real identity of your subject would likely still be pretty clear to someone involved. By using a pen name and changing the name of people, places and organizations in your e-book, you will further remove the specifics and better protect yourself against libel claims. Voicing an opinion is not libelous; however, be careful that you are not actually making an accusatory statement. Even if you say "in my opinion" before a statement, that does not automatically make the statement an opinion. If you are speculating or asserting something about an individual, you can be sued for making a libelous claim. Do not make the following statements or claims, as they are clear grounds for a libel case: 1) Falsely accusing someone of a crime or of having been charged, indicted or convicted of a crime 2)Falsely identifying someone as the carrier of an infectious or loathsome disease 3)Falsely charging someone or an organization with a claim that discredits or disqualifies a business, office or trade and lowers their profitability 4) Falsely accusing someone as being impotent. Seriously consider whether or not your e-book makes statements or reveals information that could damage someone, and consult a legal advisor if you are concerned.

What is the difference between a private and public figure in libel?

THEY MUST PROVE DIFFERENT CASES, Public and private figures are treated differently in libel cases. A private figure is an individual not in the public eye. If you were to make a claim about a private figure in your e-book and the individual decided to charge you with libel, he or she would have to prove only that you were "negligent," in making your claim, or that a "reasonable" person would not have published the statements. A public figure is someone in the public eye who has actively sought to influence the resolution of a matter of public interest. Keep in mind there are varying degrees of public figures, which can also play a role. If a public figure or a person in the public’s interest were to sue you for libel, his or her case would be slightly more difficult to prove than that of a private figure: he or she would have to prove negligence and "malice" (intent to cause harm) or your knowledge that the statements were false. Again, if you are unsure as to whether or not the people you’re discussing in your e-book are considered private or public figures, it’s best to consult a legal advisor.