The Law for Authors with Helen Sedwick



Today’s post attacks some of the legal issues that authors should be aware of. I often find that legal advice that is given to authors tends to be slanted towards Americans. This podcast covers a number of subjects, but doesn’t focus on subjects that are specific to Americans – it is more of a general nature – and totally entertaining! Well worth a listen!
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In episode 84 of the WRITER 2.0 Podcast I spoke with author and lawyer Helen Sedwick about all the legal issues authors and aspiring writers need to think about.

We discussed:

  • what type of business entity an author needs;
  • why she recommends avoiding assisted self-publishing packages;
  • defamation, and whether it’s okay to write bad stuff about people we know;
  • how to avoid using copyrighted photos on your blog;
  • whether it’s okay to use song lyrics in your book;
  • whether it’s okay to edit blurbs when marketing our books;
  • when it’s okay to use brand names in a negative way.

 

To listen to the podcast, click HERE

 

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7 Deadly Sins of Blog Post Writing



This blog post from Jeff Bullas’s site is one of the best I’ve read at explaining what is frequently done wrong in terms of blog posts. I love reading Jeff’s blog – it is informative but not overly technical. A good addition to your list of resource blogs. Enjoy!

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In the realm of writing, one could easily confirm that blogging is more of a science than an art. Great content is key to any great blog, but if that’s the only thing you have to offer, then your blog isn’t likely to go anywhere.

There is a world of information about algorithms, lead optimization, SEO and keyword searches, and more, all designed to get your content seen by a massive audience. But beyond those big things, there are some little details, that, when ignored, have the power to ruin a potentially successful blog.

Here is a list of seven blog killers to avoid:

1. Writing text-only posts

Very few people will remain loyal to text-only blogs. You have to give them visual cues. Photos, graphics and videos all help to reinforce and clarify the content. Without them, your readers may become bored or frustrated.

To read the rest of the post at Jeff’s blog, click here

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Hiring Technical Assistants



Some time ago, I was asked to create a post on Hiring Technical Assistants. These are similar to Virtual Assistants, but they are hired to perform technical tasks for you. I hope this post helps clarify this area.

Barb Drozdowich returns to The Author CEO to share her “guruness”. This time in the area of vetting technical assistants. Social media is the mother’s milk to the success of the Indie author. Those unable to master social media or hire the wrong social media consultant remain practically invisible. With so many offering their services as social media experts, Barb gives authors areas to investigate when vetting technical support.

 

Authors are pretty special people. Not only are they way more creative than I will every hope to be, they supply me with the books that feed my soul. To me, authors are very important!

 

With the way that publishing is going, authors are now expected to be Jacks of All Trades. Not only do they have to create those wonderful stories that I devour, but they have to wear so many hats.

 

Where I come in is to help with that Technical Hat. I do a bit of blog design, but what I spend most of my time doing is teaching authors how to manage all the technical aspects of their platform. I teach how to manage a WordPress Blog, how to wrestle with Mailchimp and how to set up all those social media accounts along with the software to manage them. And lately, it seems that I’ve been helping authors that have been ‘helped’ by someone who doesn’t understand the needs of authors.

 

Because of this, I thought I’d put together some thoughts on what you should be looking for in technical help.

 

Let’s start at the top – with your blog. When hiring someone to create a blog for you, you want to make sure that you find someone who has experience with working authors. By that, I mean someone who creates simple, easy to manage, functional sites that are meant to be operated by you. The last thing you want is a fancy site that only someone with a degree in computer programing can operate. An author’s blog does not need to be a complicated technical wonder.

 

Most people who create blogs have a business website or blog of some sort. Have a look at it. Although their site might be complicated, look at sites that they have created for clients. Are those sites set up to foster relationships with readers?

To read the full post, click HERE

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Fair Use of Copyrighted Material and Book Reviews



Today’s topic is an important one. Copyright is a topic that is near and dear to an author’s heart. Although there are differences between countries, this post can serve as a great introduction to the topic.
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Anyone who has been hanging around the indie world for even the shortest time knows that there has been an uptick in authors threatening book reviewers with lawsuits claiming copyright violation. I shake my head every time I see it. Attorney/Author Sean Keefer has returned with his pithy advice on the subject of copyright and fair use. This time addressing book reviews and fair use.

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In my last post on the Author CEO I covered the topic of copyright in regard to original works, where I briefly mentioned the concept of fair use.

Fair use allows for certain usage of copyrighted material by third parties without the permission of the copyright holder.

The basic guiding principle is that when usage of copyrighted materials includes such uses as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, there is no infringement of copyright. These types of uses are allowed under the doctrine of fair use.

To determine if the use of copyrighted material is covered under fair use, there are four factors that must be examined. However, these factors are not static and there is fluidity in their application.

The purpose and character of the use. Basically, how is the copyrighted work used? Non-commercial use, teaching, and scholarship and the like receive more protection than commercial use. But simply because certain use is commercial in nature does not automatically violate the fair use doctrine.

The nature of the copyrighted worked. If, for instance, the work is non-fiction and the use involves the using of facts or statistics from the work, more latitude is given. Fiction gets more copyright protection than non-fiction because of the creative element in the process of creating fiction. However, simply because a work is fiction, does not mean that one cannot quote from it for comment or review. (Keep this in mind, we will be coming back to this.)

To read the rest of this post, click HERE.

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Copyright – A Basic Introduction



Today is the first in a 2 part series on Copyright. This is an important topic and although there can be some differences in copyright from country to country, you should find this introductory post helpful.

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In 2011, in the early days of Sisterhood of the Traveling Book, I came across the award winning book, The Trust, written by attorney, Sean Keefer. Because the book looked fantastic and I felt it would fit in with our reviewers,  I immediately contacted Sean to become an author member and have not been disappointed. I absolutely loved the book and Sean has stayed in the front of my mind waiting for his next book to come out.

With the recent uproar regarding threatening of lawsuits for negative reviews, I reached out to Sean to explain Copyright Law and Fair Use, specifically as it relates to book reviews.  His immediate response was that it would take more than one post, so I gave him the forum to teach authors about this important topic.

Please note that this series is on  Copyright Law and Fair Use in the United States. Please refer to an intellectual attorney in you live outside the US and have questions on this important topic.

seanPeople think that as a lawyer who is also an author I frequently provide counsel on the issue of copyright. Actually that is not always the case. Usually I have people who are not attorneys provide me their belief about copyright. Unfortunately, what I hear is generally incorrect.

Below I will cover a few of the basics about copyright to help folks better understand this area of the law. As you read, keep in mind that I am in no way being exhaustive on the topic. In fact, I am only scratching the surface. If you have questions about something specific, consult an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where you live—preferably one who regularly practices in the area of intellectual property.

So how does one copyright a work? To obtain a copyright a few requirements must be met.   Fortunately, they are pretty straightforward.

First, the work must be original—and by original I mean completely original. Remember, you are copyrighting the entire work, not a plot, character, theme, cover photo, or type font. Rather, the copyright covers the whole work as a complete unit from cover to cover.

It is not unusual for there to be works with similar story lines, characters, plots, pacing, literary techniques, and the like, but those similarities alone will not in and of themselves violate a copyright. If that were the case, think of all the problems writers of vampire and werewolf books would have. The easiest and most straightforward way to gain an understanding about what can be the subject of a copyright is to use the idea of time travel. You could copyright a book about time travel, but not the theory of time travel. In short, you can’t copyright an idea or theory.

So how does one obtain the copyright for their complete original work of fiction or non-fiction? Simple: finish it. Current law establishes that once a literary work is complete, the copyright attaches. There are also steps that can be pursued to strengthen this. For example, you can pursue registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, where additional rights may be available to the holder of the copyright. With this having been completed one could potentially: seek fees from someone who infringes on a copyright, seek other damages, seek injunctions (a judicial order causing the infringement to stop), or other relief.

To read the rest of this post, click HERE.

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