Every writer has a personal connection to their work. It’s the reason many writers end up wondering, "how do you copyright your children's book?".
Us writers spend hours of time and plenty of effort creating our work — the last thing we want is for someone to steal it.
But you should know that you 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). This protection is automatically applied to your writing as soon as it’s recorded in a tangible medium (e.g., typing your manuscript).
Interested in Writing a Children's Book?
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.
To better understand how it all works, let's discuss these questions:
If you don’t need to formally copyright your children's book, why would you?
In Canada, formal registration can act in your favour if you ever have to bring a dispute to court, but it is NOT required.
In the USA, you must have copyright registration** in order to file a lawsuit related to copyright infringement.
*Copyright refers to the federal protection of your creative work.
**Copyright registration refers to formally-registered copyright with either The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (Canada) or the US Copyright Office (USA).
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 unique laws.
Do I need to include the copyright symbol “©” in my work?
In Canada, you are not required to use the "©" symbol in your work. However, some jurisdictions do require it. The same applies to the USA.
Here are some examples of what this might look like in your manuscript:
Copyright © [AUTHOR’S NAME], [YEAR OF PUBLICATION]
© Miriam Laundry, 2021
Copyright © Miriam Laundry, 2021
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, it is valid up to 70 years after the author’s passing.
Where can you formally copyright your children's book?
For Canadian authors, you can file an application to formally copyright your children's book and pay the required fee through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
For American authors, you can submit an application to formally copyright your children's book and pay the required fee through the Copyright Office.
Want to take a deeper dive as you 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.