Is It Research or Plagiarism?


Hi! I am a beginning freelance writer. I am writing an article in which I've based some of my ideas on texts I used in college. Will I be sued if I don't ask the authors' permission? They say that "stealing from one source is plagiarism, but stealing from many sources is research." Is this true? At what point does the use of previously published material cross the line from … [Read more...]

Will An Editor Steal Your Ideas?

steal idea

I'd like to send my novel out for publication, but I'm afraid it will get stolen. What would you advise? -- An Anxious Writer Dear Anxious: This is a question I've heard many times from would-be writers. I say "would-be" -- because it is a fear that blocks many writers from ever actually submitting their work into the marketplace (and therefore becoming "published" … [Read more...]

What is a “Poor Man’s Copyright”?

copyrighted stamp showing patent or trademark

The other day a client asked this question: Getting a copyright seems expensive. I can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars for lawyers and fees. Someone told me that I can get a “poor man’s copyright” by mailing my work to myself, then keeping the sealed envelope to prove when I created the work. It seems like this could save me some money. Is there any special way I need to … [Read more...]

Using Public Domain Music in an Audiobook


Music can enhance the audio version of your book. But when creating an audiobook, you need to be careful to respect the intellectual property rights of the artists who created the music. There is music in the public domain (music that is not covered by copyright) but determining the public domain status of a work is not necessarily simple. I have had versions of the … [Read more...]

What To Do When Someone Steals Your Ideas

If you steal from me you will be cursed.

"I queried a major magazine and included a list of interview sources. They rejected my idea but, one year later, they just published the article I pitched to them, and they used my sources!" "I received a form rejection letter for a series of books I pitched to a large book publisher a couple of year ago. I just got back from Barnes and Noble and, guess what? That same … [Read more...]

Copyright Facts Every Author Should Know


While it’s generally known that authors own copyrights of their works once they put pen to paper, in this digital age, stealing someone’s work is easier than it has ever been. Authors may find it in their best interests to get their work copyrighted, or at the least, to learn the facts about copyright. Do authors need to copyright their books? Most authors know they own the … [Read more...]

Images in Books: Rights and Permissions


Writing a book that will include images can be a challenge for many reasons. Whether it’s getting quality images or securing permission to use photographs, authors need to do their research if they want to produce a quality book with stunning visual appeal. Most authors are concerned about retaining the copyright to their books, but too often, they forget to give the same … [Read more...]

Copyright and Fair Use


One of the most misunderstood aspects of copyright law is the concept of “fair use.” Some people believe that fair use allows anyone to use up to a certain number of words from a copyrighted work (such as 120) or not more than a percentage (such as 10%) of the entire work. However, the law contains no such provision. Although the law does not specify exactly what constitutes … [Read more...]

How to Investigate the Public Domain Status of a Work

This is a simplified explanation of how to determine if a work is in the public domain and not covered by copyright. It is intended to be a useful guide to copyright and public domain under U.S. law, but not to substitute for legal advice. In countries outside the U.S., consult with the copyright authority in your country. … [Read more...]