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Copyright Caboodle: The Copyright Page

The copyright page is probably one of the most overlooked pages in a book. Believe it or not, there’s no hard and fast rule to how copyright pages are constructed, but they all have particular elements that you should probably include in your book.

The following things can appear on the copyright page:

  1. Title of the book
  2. Author name
  3. Publisher
  4. Publisher’s address
  5. Date of publication
  6. The edition
  7. If it’s been previously published, previous editions
  8. ISBN
  9. If it’s fiction, a disclaimer often appears here that says something like: “All characters are fiction, and similarities to real people are coincidental”
  10. Quote and image permissions
  11. Acknowledgements of governmental funding

Most copyright pages will look something like this:



Sometimes it’s good practice to have a short disclaimer, especially in non-fiction, that says: “If you are a copyright holder and you feel your work has been represented unfairly, please contact the publisher.” This may help to cover you if you could not find the source for a particular document that you have quoted in your manuscript. Similarly, if you are giving advice in your non-fiction book, you can include a disclaimer so that people do not pursue you for any advice you give which may have worked out poorly for them. It can’t hurt to be careful ahead of time and give yourself protection from legal recourse.

If you want to be environmentally friendly, and are publishing an ebook, you could add a disclaimer that tells the reader that he or she is allowed to print the book, but should consider not doing so to save paper.




A quick note on editions, though this probably will not be something going on your self-published copyright page:

You may have noticed a series of numbers that count backwards on the copyright page: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4. These numbers indicate the print run of the book, and is called the printer’s key. The lowest number visible is the current print run (collector’s edition) of the book.The higher the number, the more print runs the book has had. Of course, this only applies to books with print runs, not with print-on-demand books.

Go and take a look at some copyright pages and pay attention to their layout! Text placement and spacing is still something to consider, as always. If there is anything you think should be added to your copyright page or if you would like us to give your page a quick look-over, give us a shout!

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Copyright Caboodle: Dangerous Quotables

Quotations, epigrams, and aphorisms are everywhere, and with good cause. Brevity being the soul of wit, a snappy quote can serve to set the tone of an article, chapter, or entire work–the first few lines of Yeats’ The Second Coming in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a perfect example. However, the ubiquitous nature of quotes also means that they are often overused, and either used cavalierly, without regard for the context in which they originally appeared, or lazily, when a writer would rather convey a clever quip on a topic than have to do real work writing something compelling on a topic. But discerning usage for tone and thematic reasons isn’t the real focus of this post. It’s about the copyright issues that come up when you use quotes that we are concerned with today!

A lot of people come to us with work that is chock-a-block with quotes, but they haven’t given the slightest thought to whether or not they are free to use what they have put down. Just like images, quotations often require the right permissions in order to be used legally and ethically. The standard public domain rules apply, and old enough quotations are fair game: you can quote things that are in the public domain without attributing permissions. Unfortunately, when you think “public domain” some people think of the internet. Just because something is posted on the internet doesn’t mean that it’s public domain. It’s in the public, yes, but whether it’s a picture or some text, it probably belongs to someone.


Where to Find Reliable Quotes


When it comes to finding the perfect quote, don’t simply resort to quotation websites–most of them are susceptible to inaccuracies and incorrectly attribute quotes to sources that are commonly thought to have said them, but in actuality did not. There are reputable published collections of quotations out there that you can use if you must. Bartlett’s, Oxford, and Yale have the acumen and research put behind their collections that guarantees your quotes will at least be properly sourced.

The most important thing that people overlook is the permission to include recent quotations in their work, that is, to cite a work that is not your own that is not public domain. So how do you obtain that permission?


The Easiest Way to Get Permission to Reprint Something…


…is to ask! Find out who controls the rights to what you want to quote and ask them for permission to reprint a portion of it. Make sure to be extremely specific as to what you want to quote. Having trouble finding out who exactly you need to contact? Sometimes you need to check with a copyright organization in your country. Make an account and let them help you out–that’s what they are there for. In Canada, check out Access Copyright and consult the Copyright Clearance Center in the US. They do the work of contacting the publishers for you, and if you are on the other end, they can ensure that you get the proper accreditation and royalties for your work if it is to be reproduced. Some copyright holders are so hard to find that even these organizations have trouble finding them–luckily, the Copyright Act (at least in Canada) allows Copyright boards to issue you a licence in place of the absentee copyright owner.

Once permission has been obtained, it usually goes on the copyright page, which is one of the first pages in a book.


Song Lyrics


Just like regular quotes, song lyrics also require permission when reprinting. But when licencing lyrics, expect to pay a lot more than a quotation from a book. Most publishers will persuade the author not to include a song lyric if it is copyrighted–especially if it’s a song by a popular artist. The cost of quoting song lyrics in your book can be thousands of dollars. Usually it’s not worth the cost, and more likely than not, song lyrics don’t add to your body of work. Let your writing speak for itself and convey its own feeling. If you’re attached to the idea of a song lyric, try and find a traditional song that is in the public domain. Most folk songs can be freely sung and reprinted by anyone and have lots of emotional weight that could be a welcome addition to your text. Or, if you are feeling especially creative, you could write your own song and quote it: this works best for fantasy stories, like Tolkien did for Lord of the Rings.

Save yourself the trouble before you quote like crazy in your work by doing your homework beforehand. When self-publishing you are going to need to think of issues like these and work on them yourself. When it comes to stuff like this, asking forgiveness instead of asking permission isn’t always the best course of action.

Join us next week when we talk about the most overlooked page of a book: the copyright page!

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Copyright Caboodle: Stock Images in Publishing

Something we’ve noticed since starting Woulds & Shoulds is how little people know about copyright.

We had one person send us a non-fiction manuscript with images, but it was pretty clear that he had typed a few keywords into Google, and took whatever pictures he thought would look good, and slapped them into his manuscript.

Google Images is not a u-pick, where you can just snatch up all the berries you want and stuff them in your sweater pockets. It’s a collection of pictures around the internet, gathered based on your keywords. For each of those images, someone, somewhere has taken the time to make them. Sometimes people allow and encourage others to share and use their work without permission, but in most cases, someone holds copyright.

This article is the first in a series about copyright and the writer. Today, we’ll give an overview of how publishers use stock images.

Buying from Stock Image Websites


For the most part, unless you are a noteworthy author a lot of fiction publishers turn to stock image websites to use for covers.

Stock image websites are pretty easy to find. Istockphoto, Shutterstock, and Getty Images are just some examples of large scale, find-any-sort-of-picture-ever companies.

This is how they work. Say I’m Joe Photographer, and I like taking photos. I sign up on one of the aforementioned sites and submit my work. If my photos get approved, I get a percentage of the money earned each time someone buys my photo.

That’s the other thing, though. When you buy an image, you’re not really buying it. You are buying the right to use it for a specific purpose: an article, a book cover, a poster, or whatever else. You are licencing the photo, in other words. You may also see options to purchase extended licences.

So what does this mean for you, the enthusiastic and noble-minded self-publisher?



Say you’re self-publishing a book, and you’re planning on hiring a printer. You’re a new author, but you’ve got a killer book that you think will sell. You’re looking at an iStockphoto picture, and you think it’s perfect for the cover. Great. The standard licencing agreement covers up to 499,999 impressions—that’s a lot. A bestseller in Canada is only 5,000 copies; small potatoes in comparison. So you purchase the photo with the standard licence.

A few months later, you publish your books. Fortunately you did some pre-marketing, and ta-da, you sell some books. And then some more. And more, and more, until your sales numbers are out of control and you find yourself sleeping on piles of money. A dream come true!

Or can you….

You check again on the website, and turns out, you have to re-licence the image before you can purchase an extended licence.

Funnily enough, for electronic publications–meaning ebooks–you don’t have to buy an extended licence if you use iStock. On the other hand, some stock photo companies such as Shutterstock allow 250,000 end users to own a product with their image on it before buying an enhanced licence.

Of course, the odds of a self-published author selling that many copies is quite low, so under normal conditions you may not need an extended licence.

Model Releases


A small point, but if there is a person in the stock image, the photographer usually has to get a model release form saying that the model gives the photographer the right to use their face in whatever way the photographer sees fit. This release is important to consider as a publisher if this person’s face is to become part of a book cover. If there was no release and a person happens to see their face on a book cover, they may contact you and demand royalties from you.

And Lastly…


Make sure you compare the standard licence to the extended one–always. It’s better for you to take a little time now and compare rather than wait for a lawyer to call you up. At the very least, if a picture isn’t yours, you should make an effort to find out whose it is, and ask for permission to use it. I find most people are willing to share their work as long as they get credit somewhere. Credit in a book for images usually goes on the copyright page.

See iStockphoto’s Licence Comparison Table.

See Shutterstock’s Licence Comparison Table.

Join us next week on Copyright Caboodle as we talk about the wonderful world of abused quotations and their oft-ignored permissions.

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