From Category: Legal Resources for Writers
Authors Alliance Fair Use Guidebook
"Fair use" is the legal principle that determines how much of a copyrighted work can be quoted without a license. The Authors Alliance offers this free online guide to fair use for nonfiction writers, covering common scenarios and their legal resolution.
Contracts for Creatives: A Glossary
At the Alliance of Independent Authors' self-publishing advice site, this guest column by intellectual property lawyer Kathryn Goldman breaks down the meanings of common terms in a publishing contract.
Documatica Forms: Publishing & Copyright Agreement
Online store for legal forms offers this simple publishing contract for free.
Electronic Copyright Office
As of July 1, 2008, the US Copyright Office has a new online registration system, electronic Copyright Office (eCO), which offers lower filing fees and quicker processing as compared with traditional paper applications.
FindLaw Articles on Copyrights
Clear and concise articles on what is copyrightable, why to register your work, ownership of rights and enforcing your rights. A good place to visit before registering with the US Copyright Office.
Keeping It Legal
Lawyer and self-published author Helen Sedwick writes this blog to help writers, particularly self-published ones, navigate the legal issues involved in publishing, promoting, and protecting their work. Topics include fair use, defamation, and copyright.
A good value for writers who can't afford traditional law firm fees, Legal Shield is a monthly subscription plan that allows you to call their attorneys for consultation on specific issues. You can ask for a lawyer with a particular area of expertise, e.g. intellectual property. Recommended by publishing industry expert Jane Friedman.
NameProtect’s Free Online Trademark Search
Thinking of starting a new publication or service? Try out various names with NameProtect's free online trademark search. Avoid wasting legal fees pursuing names that are already taken.
Nolo Press Information on Trademarks & Copyrights
Articles on copyright basics, plus how to get maximum protection from the federal copyright laws. Learn the difference between trademarks and copyrights.
R.R. Bowker, the US ISBN Agency
R.R. Bowker is the authorized ISBN Agency in the United States, responsible for assigning ISBNs as well as providing information and advice on the uses of the ISBN system to publishers and the publishing industry in general. (An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a 10-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally.) Their website includes instructions for publishers or self-published authors to obtain an ISBN for their titles.
Recommended Law Firm: Bird & Bird
Offices in London, Brussels, Hong Kong, Paris, Stockholm and The Hague. Bird & Bird rescued the URL of The Poetry Society when it was snapped up by a commercial firm. They also have copyright expertise and were recently successful in the High Court acting on behalf of the estate of James Joyce in a copyright infringement case against Macmillan Publishers. The latter had published a "reader's edition" of Ulysses. Ask for Jane Mutimear, intellectual property and Internet expert, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step-by-Step Guide to Dealing with Content Theft
In this article at The Book Designer, a resource website for self-published and indie authors, attorney Helen Sedwick explains how to combat unauthorized uses of your writing. Common infringements include websites offering unlicensed electronic downloads of your books, or reposting or republishing your blog content without attribution.
The Business of Art: Fair Use and Copyright Law
Postmodern art raises novel copyright questions by extensively appropriating words, images and sounds from existing works by other artists. This article from the New York Foundation for the Arts probes the boundaries of fair use.
The Passive Voice
Intellectual property lawyer David Vandagriff (a/k/a "Passive Guy") blogs about trends in self-publishing and traditional publishing. His posts on publishing contract terms and pitfalls are especially valuable.
United States Copyright Office
Find out how to register your work. Copyright search engine is easy to use. Note that mailed submissions to the Copyright Office may be severely delayed. Use a private carrier like FedEx or UPS instead.
US Legal Forms
Clearinghouse for over 36,000 legal forms that are free or available for purchase online. Includes state-specific forms. Writers will appreciate the templates for contracts, rights assignments and intellectual property filings.