“How do I copyright my children’s book?”

Every writer has a deep, personal connection to their work. It’s the reason many writers are concerned about copyright.

And rightfully so. 

Us writers spend hours of time and plenty of effort creating our work. The last thing we want is for someone to copy or steal it.

But there’s something you need to know…

You actually don’t need to register the copyright for your manuscript.

The term “copyright” refers to “a type of intellectual property protection provided to original literary, musical, dramatic or artistic works” (Government of Canada) and is automatically applied to your creation as soon as it’s recorded in a tangible medium (e.g., typing your manuscript).

You are not required to formally apply for registered copyright protection in order to protect your work.

This law is the same in both the USA and Canada.

Okay, I know this answer might seem a bit confusing, so let’s unpack it a bit more. To better understand how copyright works, we need the answers to these questions:

If I don't need to formally register my copyright, why would I?

If I don’t need to formally register my copyright**, why would I?

In Canada, copyright registration can act in your favour if you ever have to bring a copyright dispute to court, but is NOT required.

In the USA, you are required to have copyright registration* in order to file a lawsuit related to the copyright infringement of that specific work.

*Copyright registration refers to formally-registered copyright with either The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (Canada) or the US Copyright Office (USA). 

**Copyright refers to the federal protection of your creative work that is automatically applied when you record your work in a tangible medium (regardless of whether the copyright is registered).

Is my copyright valid internationally?

Is my copyright valid in countries other than the one in which I produced the work?

Unfortunately, there is no international copyright protection. Each country has its own laws related to copyright protection.

Do I need to include the copyright symbol in my work?

Do I need to include the copyright symbol “©” in my work?

In Canada, you are not required to use the copyright symbol in your work. However, it is good practice to include it, since some jurisdictions do require it. 

The same applies to the USA.

Here’s an example of what this might look like in your manuscript: 


© Miriam Laundry, 2021

Copyright © Miriam Laundry, 2021

how long does copyright last?

How long does copyright last?

In Canada, copyright is valid up to 50 years after the author’s passing. After that, the work becomes public domain.

In the USA, copyright is valid up to 70 years after the author’s passing.

Where can I register my copyright?

Where can I register my copyright?

For Canadian authors, you can file an application and pay the required fee through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

For American authors, you can submit an application and pay the required fee through the Copyright Office.

Want to take a deeper dive into your copyright research? Here’s a list of all the sources I used for this blog post:

“A guide to copyright.” Government of Canada, https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr02281.html. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

“Circular 2: Copyright Registration.” US Copyright Office, https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ02.pdf. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

“Is my copyright good in other countries?” StopFakes, https://www.stopfakes.gov/article?id=Is-My-Copyright-Good-in-Other-Countries. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

“What is copyright?” US Copyright Office, https://www.copyright.gov/what-is-copyright/. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

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