Updated: Sep 6, 2020
There are numerous reasons for the importance of copyright for both a traditionally published author and a self-published author. When an individual creates a novel, poem, article, the copyright law is what protects the ownership of any piece of writing produced by the author. This law is so important that it is implemented in constitutions all around the world. For example, in the U.S. Constitution and international treaties, they clarify the rights of copyright holders and the penalties for infringing on a copyright. Action is needed to obtain proper copyright. For instance, if you think of an idea for a script or song, they are not protected by copyright until the moment you write it down on paper, record it on tape, and file for proper copyright. After this it automatically becomes copyright-protected. There are numerous benefits to the laws of copyright, and they are entitled to the creator of the work (Sarokin).
A major importance of copyright is to obtain the author’s rightful ownership of his or her work. Ownership means that only the copyright holder has the right to use his or her work, all other people must seek permission from the copyright holder before using his or her work. Across the art industries, authors, musicians, scriptwriters all use their works as a way of earning income. This means that they get paid if anyone wants to use their work for any purpose whatsoever. Meanwhile, some authors use the c-in-a-circle-copyright symbol (©) as a display of this protection of their works. Authors use these copyright laws as a weapon against the plagiarists who steal other creator’s works and sell them off as theirs, in the end, they are sued and are punished with the appropriate penalties.
While others might not understand the importance of these benefits, many copyright holders value the longevity of their creation. According to the Chron article ‘Why are copyright laws important’, copyright protection under modern law lasts for seventy years after the author’s death. This is very important because it means that their creation is still protected and serves as the writer’s legacy. In one of Shakespeare’s poems, Sonnet 18, ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,’ he referred to the immortality of art and explained that although people die, their art still lives on from generation to generation.
Penalties have been the severe consequences of infringing on the rights of a copyright holder. The copyright law stipulates monetary penalties for infringing upon a creator’s rights. The cases are customarily taken to court upon which a fee is agreed upon based on the cost faced by the copyright holder. The monetary penalties vary substantially to the degree of infringement, which is how the court makes their judgment. What most people aren’t aware of is that this punishment offers coverage, federal law and international treaties made it possible that your copyright is protected not only in the United States but also in most countries around the world (Sarokin).
Unlike traditionally published authors, a lot of self-published authors or first-time authors do not have agents or seek legal advice. Often, they don’t understand that contents of publishing contracts can be modified to benefit the publishers at the loss of the copyright holder. Some authors are filled with gushing anxiousness and excitement that they just sign any contract without reading the contents, and some times some of them don’t even sign at all, they just give it to publishers and poof! their book is published. According to the Author’s Guild Interview with university press representatives, they asked, “Why is a clause granting copyright to the publisher the default language in university press agreements?”. One of their answers was, “The press is better positioned than the author to defend the copyright by use of premium outside counsel, as well as by use of an anti-piracy service to curb piracy.” Another answer given was, “Having the copyright in the press’s name allows us to work freely to maintain the integrity of the work and maximize its publishing life.” Another quite shocking answer was that; “It makes it easier for the press because it doesn’t have to ask for an author’s approval when permission uses are granted.” This is illogical because the copyright law is for them to seek permission from the author and not the other way around; it’s like breaking the laws of copyright. It is agreed that taking part in the author’s copyright is necessary, but it isn’t necessary for the publishers to own the entire copyright in a book, it’s the author’s book, they earned that right (The Authors Guild).
Sarokin, David. "Why Are Copyright Laws Important?". Small Business - Chron.Com, 2019, https://smallbusiness.chron.com/copyright-laws-important-52601.html. Accessed 18 Aug 2020.
"Authors, Keep Your Copyrights. You Earned Them. - The Authors Guild". The Authors Guild, 2020, https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/authors-keep-your-copyrights-you-earned-them/. Accessed 19 Aug 2020.
"Is Copyrighting A Book Necessary Before I Self-Publish?". Authorhouse.Com, 2020, https://www.authorhouse.com/en/get-published/copyright. Accessed 19 Aug 2020.
"Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’S Day? (Sonnet 18) By William Shakespeare - Poems | Poets.Org". Poets.Org, 2020, https://poets.org/poem/shall-i-compare-thee-summers-day-sonnet-18. Accessed 19 Aug 2020.