When collecting material for your book, it can be easy to forget to properly protect yourself against plagiarism accusations and copyright infringement issues.

Plagiarism occurs when you use someone else’s words without giving credit to the original author.  If this happens you may have to deal with costly lawsuits and the crumbling of your professional reputation.  It has become such a problem that many companies have stepped up to offer plagiarism or copyright infringement software to validate published materials. 

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Document your sources and keep those records for future use, in the event that your material is questioned.
  • Give credit when using written material from another book, magazine, newspaper, song, blog, web page, advertisement, television or radio show. 
  • Material can be sourced in a footnote or simply by stating where the information came from after you cite it.
  • Give credit to anyone that you interview and any material that you use from the interview
  • Give credit to anyone that you speak with, and quote.
  • Give credit to anyone that you borrow artwork or images from.
  • When in doubt, give credit to your source.  That way you’ll always be safe.
  • Never ever use more than three words in a row from a copy source.
  • Use ideas, not words
  • Copyright your work.

Copyright covers the expression of ideas in words.  In order to protect your written words you need to copyright your material.  One good thing to note is that your material is protected the moment it is put onto paper and simply placing the copyright symbol, your name and the year it was published is enough to protect you.  However, if you want to take it a step further and register your copyright here are the steps you need to take:

Copyright Registration Step #1.  The first step in registering your book is to print a copyright notice on your copyright page, usually the back of your title page. 

Copyright Registration Step #2 Your second step is to publish your book. 

Copyright Registration Step #3 Last, you'll want to visit http://www.loc.gov/copyright/forms to register your book.  Note that there are different forms for copyrighting a book or a serial like a newsletter or a magazine. 

There isn’t any guarantee that your material will not be copied but by taking the necessary steps to protect yourself, you’ll go a long way to preventing plagiarism and copyright infringement and you’ll have the necessary documentation should any disputes arise.

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