[Note: This post was included in both the blogged and 1st version of How to Blog a Book. However, it is not as accurate as it should be. For correct information on copyright laws as they pertain to your blogged book or your blog, please read this post.]
I’ve been asked the same question several times: If someone blogs a book—actually composes it in the form of blog posts they publish on the Internet—do they need to worry about a copyright for that blogged book. The question has been asked about blog copy in general as well.
Previously, I’ve offered a general answer: As the blogger, when you hit the “publish” button, you basically copyright the material by becoming its publisher and publishing it.
In fact, my answer was correct. I just didn’t offer you the background material to go with it. I’d like to do that now. Under the Copyright law of 1976, which went into affect in 1978, any work created in a fixed form is protected by copyright upon creation. That means that when a work is put into any fixed form—printed out from your home laser jet printer, published as an e-book, booklet or POD book, or sent into Cyberspace as a blog post, your written work is protected by copyright. Thus, completed and published blog post, or all the posts that comprise a blogged book, comprise written works created in fixed form and are protected by copyright.
This information comes straight from a copyright attorney. I asked another literary attorney as well, who advised that writers always print out their work. That means, as a precaution, simply print out your blog posts before actually posting them on the Internet.
The so-called “Poor-man’s Copyright,” putting your work in an envelope and mailing it to yourself, only serves to prove when you wrote something not that you wrote it. However, it can be a handy piece of evidence should you need it, I’m told by the copyright attorney. As he said, it’s useful but not terribly essential.
And actually filing our work with the copyright office can be a royal pain in the rear if you produce a lot of writing, such as daily blog posts. If you want to sue someone for infringement and collect damages, if you worry about being infringed, or if you ever want to bring a lawsuit against someone for infringement and want to collect money, having a document that says you own the copyright to your work certainly can be a useful.