Ask The Experts – Social Media

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Whether Blogs and Social Media Posts are Considered Published


Many of our authors have blogs. When they write something in their blog or put a post on their social media page, is it considered published? If so, does this mean they cannot use what was already written on their blog in an upcoming first edition book?

Answer (07/2013):

The writer asked whether publication online is considered publication. It is. Further, publication online will not prevent the author from including the material in an upcoming first edition book. However, it’s good practice to disclose that some or all of the material was previously published online. Indeed, you are required to do so when filing a copyright registration. When completing the copyright application form (which should be filed within in three months of the book becoming commercially available), you, or your publisher on your behalf, should register the book as a derivative work or compilation of pre-existing material. The Copyright Office gives the following example of a compilation: “[A]Book of best short stories of 2006 (selected from stories published in magazines and literary journals in 2006)”

In the above example what is copyrightable is creative effort that went into deciding were the best stories. The copyright owner may also claim an interest in “additions, changes, or other new material appearing for the first time in the work.”

While copyright registration is not required, there are many benefits to doing so, including: it provides lg legal evidence of ownership; if infringed you can collect maximum damages and attorney fees; and, if you wish to sue for copyright infringement, registration is a prerequisite to filing an infringement claim with a federal court. Perhaps, the most import benefit is registration represents the threat of maximum damages. That is a major deterrent.

This discussion is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Since one situation may vary from another, you should not act on this information without seeking the advice of qualified attorney.

~ Lloyd J. Jassin provides counseling to book publishing, television, theater, new media, arts and entertainment clients on contract, licensing, copyright, trademark, unfair competition, libel, right of privacy and general corporate law matters. His practice includes drafting and negotiating publishing and entertainment industry contracts, intellectual property due diligence, trademark prosecution, dispute resolution and litigation.

We hope you will find this program useful, but as with any advice, we recommend that you make sure it fits your specific business needs. IBPA does not specifically endorse or support any particular group or service.


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