Publish date:

What Writers Need to Know About Copyrights (FAQs)

We're writers, not legal experts—and yet, every time we put words down on paper a number of legal questions arise. How do I copyright my work? Do I need to? Am I allowed to quotes song lyrics? Can I use someone else's character in my book? And that's just the tip of the pencil. Here I've collected a writer's set of FAQs about legal issues that will help you navigate the basics.

We're writers, not legal experts—and yet, every time we put words down on paper a number of legal questions arise. How do I copyright my work? Do I need to? Am I allowed to quotes song lyrics? Can I use someone else's character in my book? And that's just the tip of the pencil. Here I've collected a writer's set of FAQs about legal issues that will help you navigate the basics.

oeb-copyright-image

Can You Copyright an Idea?

How Do I Copyright My Manuscript?

Can You Copyright a Pseudonym?

Can You Copyright a Title?

How Do You Regain Copyrights to Pieces You've Sold?

Can I Use Song Lyrics in my Manuscript?

What's Considered Fair Use and What Isn't?

Can You Use Someone Else's Character in Your Book?

Using Famous Names and Proper Nouns in Fiction

(NOTE: When in doubt on anything it's best to contact an attorney that specializes on copyright law.)

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Read my Dad blog: TheLifeOfDad.com
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

wd-Brian-web-19.jpg
3 Big Tips for Writing a Children’s Picture Book Like a Pro

3 Big Tips for Writing a Children’s Picture Book Like a Pro

Small but mighty, picture books help raise children into lifelong readers. Children's book author Diana Murray offers 3 big tips for writing a picture book like a pro.

5 Things I Learned About Writing From Watching Soap Operas

5 Things I Learned About Writing From Watching Soap Operas

Lessons in writing can come from various forms of art or entertainment. Author Alverne Ball shares 5 things he learned about writing from watching soap operas.

From Script

Writing from an Intimate Point of View and Adding Essential Elements to Solidify Your Screenplay (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, TV writer Kate Sargeant shares a first-hand look on her new digital series that was a life-changing experience. Plus an interview with filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve, a new installment from ‘Ask the Coach’ and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Collecting Advice but Never Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Collecting Advice (but Never Writing)

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is to collect writing advice at the expense of actually writing.

The Benefits of a Book Coach for Writers

The Benefits of Having a Book Coach for Writers

What is a book coach? How could they help authors? Award-winning author and writing instructor Mark Spencer answers these questions and more in this post about the benefits of having a book coach for writers.

Clare Chambers: On Starting Fresh and Switching Gears

Clare Chambers: On Starting Fresh and Switching Gears

Award-winning author Clare Chambers discusses the fear and excitement of switching genre gears in her new historical fiction novel, Small Pleasures.

Poetic Forms

Exquisite Corpse: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the exquisite corpse (or exquisite cadaver), a collaborative poem that would make a fun poetic game.

How Opening Ourselves to Other People Can Make Us Better Writers

How Opening Ourselves to Other People Can Make Us Better Writers

The writing process is both individual and communal, as receiving constructive feedback and outside encouragement helps our drafts become finished manuscripts. Author Peri Chickering discusses how opening ourselves up to others can make us better writers.

What Forensic Science’s Godmother Taught Me About Writing Mysteries

What Forensic Science’s Godmother Taught Me About Writing Mysteries

Stephanie Kane discusses the impact of Frances Glessner Lee, the godmother of forensic science, and her crime scene dioramas on writing mysteries.