What copyright wording should I use on my ebook?
I'm about to publish my first ebook, "How to Hack Your Sony Vaio", and am wondering what kind of copyright notice and copy prevention verbiage I should include? Part of me wants to have a big 'do not copy!' on every page, while another part thinks that a two line note at the beginning of the ebook will be sufficient. What's your opinion, Dave?
Rather than share my own opinion, I asked a bunch of high-profile ebook authors what they use in their own ebooks. Here's what they shared...
David Lawrence, publisher of the popular 10 Quick Steps ebooks, uses this as his prototypical copyright notice:
Copyright, Legal Notice and Disclaimer:
This publication is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and all rights are reserved, including resale rights: you are not allowed to give or sell this Guide to anyone else. If you received this publication from anyone other than 10QuickSteps.com, you've received a pirated copy. Please contact us via e-mail at support at 10 quick steps.com and notify us of the situation.
Please note that much of this publication is based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence. Although the author and publisher have made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this Guide, they assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Also, you should use this information as you see fit, and at your own risk. Your particular situation may not be exactly suited to the examples illustrated here; in fact, it's likely that they won't be the same, and you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations accordingly.
Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms.
Finally, use your head. Nothing in this Guide is intended to replace common sense, legal, medical or other professional advice, and is meant to inform and entertain the reader. So have fun with the 10 Quick Steps, and get your stuff done.
Copyright © 2005 David Lawrence. All rights reserved worldwide.
Disclaimer: I have an ebook in the 10 Quick Steps series called 10 Quick Steps to Learning Mac OS X Unix.
Allen Wyatt, publisher of some great Excel ebooks through Vital News.com, has a similarly complex solution. He actually splits his copyright and liability notice into different sections in his ebooks:
Dave, I actually do my "legal" stuff in three parts. The actual copyright notice goes on my "legal" page, which is the second page (right after the title page) of the e-book. It says this:
All contents copyright C 2002-2005 by Discovery Computing Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Further down, at the bottom of the "legal" page, is my second part. It deals with liability limitations and trademarks, as follows:
Limit of Liability and Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher has used its best efforts in preparing this book, and the information provided herein is provided "as is." Discovery Computing Inc. makes no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose and shall in no event be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damage, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.
Trademarks: This book identifies product names and services known to be trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks of their respective holders. They are used throughout this book in an editorial fashion only. In addition, terms suspected of being trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks have been appropriately capitalized, although Discovery Computing Inc. cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark, registered trademark, or service mark. Discovery Computing Inc. is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.
Finally, the third part, which deals with copying and use of the material in the e-book. We all know that folks don't read or understand the fine print, which is what the foregoing is. So I put the following part as the last section of my introduction to the e-book:
Sharing this Document
There was a lot of work that went into putting this document together. I can't tell you how many countless hours are spent putting together the weekly ExcelTips newsletter from which this information was compiled. That means that this information has value, and your friends, neighbors, and co-workers may want to share it.
The information in this document is copyrighted. I would ask that you do not share this information with others-you purchased this book, and you have a right to use it on your system. Another person who has not purchased this book does not have that right. It is the sales of this valuable information that makes the continued publishing of ExcelTips possible. If enough people disregard that simple economic fact, the newsletter will no longer be viable or available.
If your friends think this information is valuable enough to ask you for it, they should think it is valuable enough to purchase on their own. After all, the price is low enough that just about anyone should be able to afford it.
It should go without saying that you cannot post this document or the information it contains on any electronic bulletin board, Web site, FTP site, newsgroup, or ... well, you get the idea. The only place from which this document should be available is the ExcelTips Web site. If you want an original copy, visit the Vital News store at the following address: http://store.vitalnews.com/
Tim Carter, publisher of lots of home improvement ebooks through his Ask The Builder site, has a very different take on this subject:
I say don't offend people by potentially claiming they're pirates. Instead, turn lemons into lemonade.
Place a prominent link at the bottom of EACH page of the EBook that takes them back to the sales page of all of your titles. If the original customer sends free copies to 5 of his friends and if three of the pirates like what they read in the free copy, who knows, he/she may buy one of your other titles.
Randy Cassingham, publisher of the Stella Awards ebook series, has a similarly succinct copyright notice. Here's his, in its entirety:
© 2005 by Randy Cassingham, All Rights Reserved worldwide under the Berne Convention. May not be copied or distributed without prior written permission -- if you have this file (or a printout) and didn't pay for it, you are depriving the author and publisher of their rightful royalties. Please pay for your copy by purchasing it at http://www.StellaAwards.com/caselog.html or by sending $15 in cash, check or money order to the mailing address kept current at http://www.StellaAwards.com/contact.html. Thank you.
Lots of choices, lots of different ways to address this important issue. Since I haven't officially released my first ebook (though there are some in the pipeline, stay tuned!) i haven't settled on my own approach, but I really like what David Lawrence has written, with its combination of copyright, trademark acknowledgment and disclaimer.
Good luck, whatever you do!
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