Can You Change the Title of a Book After It Has a Copyright?

By Grygor Scott

An author or publisher may want to change the title of a book after it has been copyrighted for a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps the author came up with a fab new title. Or perhaps the publisher feels the original title is not marketable or the book’s editor hears through the grapevine that Stephen King’s forthcoming novel will have the same title. You can change the title of a book after its copyright has been registered under another title.

Copyright Basics

U.S. copyright laws protect original works of authorship by granting an intellectual property right to authors. Authors have the exclusive right to publish and distribute copies of their copyrighted works, perform the works and create derivative works. An author whose copyrighted work has been infringed upon may sue the infringer for statutory or actual damages, depending on the circumstances.

Titles and Copyright

Copyright laws do not provide legal protection for brief combinations of words. Names of businesses or products, advertising slogans and book titles are among the brief combinations of words that cannot be copyrighted. Although some brief combinations of words can be trademarked, it’s rare for a book title to satisfy the requirements for a valid federal trademark. However, some book series titles, for example the For Dummies series, have qualified for trademark protection.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Title Change

Because copyright protection encompasses only the text of the book, not its title, a title change does not affect an author’s intellectual property rights. Publishers and authors may change a book’s title after they have already registered a copyright. However, to avoid confusion and potential legal issues in the future, publishers and authors should consider taking advantage of the U.S. Copyright Office’s registration amendment process.

Supplementary Registration

U.S. copyright holders can file a supplemental registration form to amend their original copyright registrations. U.S. Copyright Office rules require that a supplementary registration either correct or amplify the original registration. A title change for a book qualifies as an amplification. Authors may fill out and submit Copyright Office Form CA to request a supplemental registration that provides the book's new title. The Copyright Office issues a supplementary registration certificate that incorporates the new title. The Office also cross-references the original and supplementary registrations in its official records.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
Does a Revision of a Book Need to Be Copyrighted?

References

Related articles

Are Company Slogans Copyrighted?

Federal copyright law grants exclusive rights to the use of “original works of authorship,” whether or not they are published. Copyright law protects a broad range of works, including books, poems, songs, paintings and even computer programs. However, copyright law normally does not protect short phrases, such as a company slogan. Trademark law, on the other hand, specifically protects slogans that companies use to identify themselves as the maker of a product.

Can Furniture Be Copyrighted?

Copyright laws give people the exclusive right to profit from their original creative works for a specific length of time. Federal law defines the types of works that can receive copyright protection. Some aspects of furniture design are considered unique artistic endeavors protected by copyright law, just like a sculpture or an architectural plan. However, the functional or utilitarian aspect of furniture design would be covered by patent law rather than by copyright.

How to Copyright Sewing Patterns

If you want to protecting sewing patterns, it's complicated. Because copyright is all about protecting expression, it can protect the original text and images appearing in the pattern, as well as the envelope used to contain the pattern. However, the protection doesn’t extend to the ideas expressed in the pattern itself. Anyone can use these ideas to create an identical design.

Related articles

How to Copyright a Webpage

Your webpage is technically copyrighted as soon as it is placed in a tangible medium such as the Internet. In order to ...

How to Buy the Copyright for an Old Book

Copyright is a legal concept that gives authors exclusive control of their books, preventing other people from ...

How Close Can a Logo Be & Not Be a Copyright Infringement?

Federal copyright law protects original works of art and design used commercially, such as logos. If the copyright is ...

How to Start a Clothing Brand With a Trademark & Copyrights

A clothing brand starts with a unique name, creative logo and catchy slogan. The brand name, logo and slogan serve as ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED