Claiming Copyright Protection for Your E-Book

by John Soares on April 2, 2012

Whether you’ve already written an e-book or you are just thinking about it, you’ve certainly had concerns about whether or not unscrupulous people will distribute or download your e-book for free and thus violate your copyright.

Copyright symbolOf course, in this digital world it’s very difficult to prevent someone who has your e-book from either e-mailing it to others or just putting it up on a sharing or torrent site. I recognize that this will happen to some extent with my e-books and other information products, but I’ve taken some steps to both decrease the likelihood it will happen and also recoup some money if it does happen.

My E-Book Copyright Notice in the Prefatory Matter

Here’s the notice I put on the title page of  Writing College Textbook Supplements: The Definitive Guide to Winning High-Paying Assignments in the College Textbook Publishing Market, second edition:

Purchase of this ebook allows you to have one copy on your computer and to print out one copy. Distributing this ebook electronically, or printing out more than one copy, is a violation of United States and international copyright laws and is subject to fines and legal action.

My E-Book Footer Copyright Notice

And this copyright notice is in the footer of every page:

Forwarding or redistribution of this publication is prohibited.
All rights reserved. All contents © 2011 John R. Soares.

This stresses that the purchaser is only entitled to use the one copy for his/her own use. Now, I know that some unscrupulous people will send the e-book to their friends, or worse, but I do want to have the reminder that it’s wrong appearing on every page.

And while we’re examining important notices in ebooks, let’s also look at my…

Important Ebook Disclaimers

I include:

This book discusses financial, health, psychological, and other topics. You are responsible for your own physical and mental health and financial well-being, and all of your actions. Consult a licensed professional for specific advice.

This decreases the possibility of legal issues, and it encourages readers to take responsibility for their lives and their decisions.

I also include:

Some portions of this book may appear on one or more of John Soares’ websites, or in print.

This isn’t really necessary, but I want purchasers to be aware of this. For example, I’ve edited excerpts of Intelligent Productivity for Freelance Writers and used them here as blog posts.


Please order more copies at:

This has two purposes. First, it indirectly reminds purchasers that they are not allowed to reproduce or forward the e-book for the use of others; if they want someone else to have it, they need to pay for it. Second, it’s a subtle reminder to anyone who illegally obtained the book that they have a way to make themselves honest.

Affiliate Links Disclosure

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says you have to disclose affiliate links, and it’s also the ethical thing to do.


I give links to for all recommended books. Note that the Amazon links are affiliate links, which means if you click on the links and then purchase from Amazon, I will make a small percentage of the sales amount. I only suggest books I have read and think are important and useful to you. Most of the books are also available at major bookstores and local independent bookstores.

Your Take

What do you think of my steps to protect copyright and minimize any legal troubles? What would you add or take away? If you’ve written an e-book, do have similar clauses?

(Copyright symbol photo credit: OCAL. Thanks!)

Make More Money for Less Work Freelance writers who specialize make much more money than those who don't. My short and focused course Find Your Freelance Writing Niches: Make More Money for Less Work guides you through all the key steps you need to take to discover the specialties that will take your freelance writing income to a much higher level. Click here for all the details.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cathy Miller April 2, 2012 at 8:13 AM

Great tips, John. You’re right, it won’t stop some, but it is amazing how many people are unaware that sharing e-Books or copying portions of it violates any laws.

One author I know adds the fine amount to his notice – something along the lines of penalties of up to $100,000 PER COPY distributed. I would also add something about it not being reprinted or reproduced without the author’s express written permission.
Cathy Miller recently posted…The No Excuses Quarterly Business Review


2 John Soares April 2, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Thanks for stopping by Cathy. I’ve also seen that “penalties of up to $100,000 PER COPY distributed” notice, but that’s a little over the top for me.

I went with my “Distributing this ebook electronically, or printing out more than one copy, is a violation of United States and international copyright laws and is subject to fines and legal action” because it seems a bit less draconian.

And I don’t discuss the reprint/reproduction question because I wouldn’t allow it under any circumstances. If other people want the e-book, they need to order it directly through me.
John Soares recently posted…Six Tips for Marketing Your Freelance Writing from Lori Widmer


3 Sharon Hurley Hall April 2, 2012 at 12:31 PM

This is excellent, John. I must compare with my own disclaimer. I particularly like the addition of ordering information to each page.
Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…My Blogging Adventures 2012


4 John Soares April 2, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Thank you Sharon. I actually only include the ordering information in the prefatory matter at the beginning of the book.
John Soares recently posted…How the 80-20 Rule Affects Freelance Writers


5 Sharon Hurley Hall April 2, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Yes, of course – it’s adding the full copyright on every page that’s a good idea. I usually have my name and the book title but not always the full copyright.
Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…My Blogging Adventures 2012


6 John Soares April 2, 2012 at 2:43 PM

It’s unfortunate that I feel the need to add that copyright to every page, but so many people don’t have a good grasp of copyright these days, so I feel compelled to do it.
John Soares recently posted…The Well-Organized Freelance Writer’s Home Office


7 Andrew @ Blogging Guide April 3, 2012 at 12:29 AM

Great help John.

Your words will stop many from sharing but, as you know, it won’t stop all.

I have similar words in my own e-books but I believe yours are stronger.

I like the idea of adding a fine amount but I’m not aware of how you can monitor such sharing though.

Andrew @ Blogging Guide recently posted…Are You A Blogging Pinball Wizzard?


8 John Soares April 3, 2012 at 6:02 AM

No, Andrew, it won’t stop all sharing, but I think it will stop people who are ethical and decent.
John Soares recently posted…Is a College Education Necessary to Be a Successful Freelance Writer?


9 Anne Wayman April 3, 2012 at 6:55 AM

John, I use something similar in the front matter and just don’t worry about folks who may copy or otherwise misuse my ebooks… I really can’t do a darn thing about it as near as I can tell. The copyright simply puts me in a position to do something if someone starts making significant money off material copied from me.

I didn’t realize the FCC requires affiliate link notice… everywhere? Websites, ebooks, etc. Do they spell out how that notice is supposed to be used?
Anne Wayman recently posted…Writing Fiction or Nonfiction


10 John Soares April 4, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Have a look at my affiliate notice in the sidebar Anne.

I think we’re supposed to make it clear that we will be compensated if a visitor/reader clicks our links to products and then makes a purchase.
John Soares recently posted…The Well-Organized Freelance Writer’s Home Office


11 Anne Wayman April 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Yes, I’ve been aware of your notice – have added something similar in my about pages… thanks for the link below.
Anne Wayman recently posted…4 Ways Freelance Writers Charge Clients & Get Paid


12 Anne Wayman April 3, 2012 at 7:01 AM

John, I did some searching on the site and have no idea how to find it… radio uses the term affiliate so much it makes it difficult for someone to sort out… do you have a reference on the FCC and affiliate links?

Anne Wayman recently posted…Writers – What’s On Your Desk?


13 John Soares April 4, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Anne, have a look at this link:

John Soares recently posted…Freelance Writer’s Guide to Library Research


14 Anne Wayman April 5, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Thanks John… that link is now bookmarked… appreciate it.
Anne Wayman recently posted…Editing – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


15 Aimee Kunau April 4, 2012 at 3:28 PM

This is great info! Thank you for sharing your
insights. I am looking forward to producing my
own material and this helps answer some important


16 John Soares April 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Glad it helped Aimee. Good luck with your e-book!
John Soares recently posted…Why Choosing the Right Words Matters


17 Cristina April 4, 2012 at 11:30 PM

Hi John,

Great information and tips, thanks for sharing. I’m from Manila and unfortunately not a lot of people here know that it’s a crime to share e-books. Part of the problem I think is that our law enforcement people doesn’t have the training or knowledge yet to identify the offenders. That’s why articles like these are valuable because it provides awareness.

– Cristina


18 Sarah Writing Online April 6, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Great tips here John.

I have read a bunch of your hiking stuff, and came across this blog while doing a project for work. I will continue to follow.

Happy trails :)

Sarah Writing Online recently posted…Best Small Colleges in the U.S.


19 Dre Baldwin April 6, 2012 at 6:16 PM

I like all of these; i use the footer in my own ebooks. and i feel it does work to deter unauthorized copying. Nice post.


20 Janet | probloggingsuccess April 10, 2012 at 5:38 AM

Thank you for sharing your concerns in protecting the rights of ebook owners. It is difficult to stop sharing unless we get advanced technical breakthrough.

Until that moment, we should try our level best to convince readers to honor the rights of book writers.
Janet | probloggingsuccess recently posted…Problogging Success Weekend Read: Blogging, SEO And List Building


21 John Soares April 11, 2012 at 6:24 AM

I focus on encouraging people to do the right thing; I’m far less interested in pursuing people and trying to punish them if they do illegally share my e-books.
John Soares recently posted…New Freelance Writer Community: About Writing Squared


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