Copyright is the exclusive right to make copies of a piece of work - a story or a novel for example. Everything you create is copyrighted. You can’t make copies of someone else’s copyrighted work without their permission.
Copyright can be a tricky subject so make sure you get some proper legal advice as and when you need it. This website does not offer any legal advice on copyright and nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice.
As soon as you write something on paper or type it onto your computer it is automatically copyrighted by yourself as you are the author (provided that the material is an original piece of work).
What if the copyright of a story is contested? Some people recommend that you mail your story to yourself using registered post. This will satisfy someone curious about your claim to the copyright but apparently, this method won’t stand up in court if contested. You could register your copyright but as far as I understand it, this can be expensive and time consuming.
If you’re concerned that a publisher would steal your story and attribute it to another writer, don’t be. Their job is to make money. If your story is good enough to publish and will sell, they will buy it. They also want to sell all the other stories that you can produce. Stealing your work will ruin their reputation and cost them in lost revenue.
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