Intellectual property litigation for writers

Glenn W. Peterson

When California writers prepare works for publication, they may wonder how they can protect their works. It is important for writers to understand which aspects of their work are protected by a copyright and when this copyright has been violated.

Some writers may want to copyright everything related to their writing. says that there are certain things a writer can copyright. All of the material a writer puts on his or her website, including pictures and artwork, can be copyrighted. Additionally, original works are protected by a copyright. This includes the songs or poems someone might write to include in their book. Writers cannot copyright their title, however, or names they have made up. An author’s domain name is also not protected under a copyright. While some writers may want to protect their ideas, ideas are not eligible for copyrighting.

There are situations when an author’s copyright might be infringed. According to, a copyright has been infringed if someone sells copies or reproduces the work without permission. Someone also violates a copyright if he or she creates a derivative work without permission, such as an abridged version or a film. In these situations, some writers may wish to pursue legal action. While authors may want to speak to the U.S. Copyright Office about the infringement, this office usually does not enforce copyright laws. Instead, writers should typically file a complaint with their local division of the FBI.

Some writers may think they can pursue legal action any time their copyright is violated. However, their work typically needs to be registered with the Copyright Office in order for them to begin a legal dispute. This means that if writers mail their work to their home address, the work does not have statutory protection.