In terms of copyright law, the person who created, or wrote the content, owns all of the rights to its title and distribution and holds the power of profiting from their work.
Because of this, you don’t need to register or patent something that you created as your own–it’s considered yours by default, unless someone else can prove otherwise.
But, what if someone claims that your book is plagiarized, or your ghostwriter suddenly wants to go back on your deal? Find out who owns literature copyrights and how Amazon views copyright policy in self-publishing!
Literature Copyrights: Who Owns the Writing Made by a Ghostwriter?
The copyright law protects creators from having their work used and distributed without their permission. It also protects them from having third parties profit based on their work without permission or proper compensation.
If you wrote and published your book, the copyright law provides a great deal of protection.
If, and whenever, you find out that someone else used pieces of your work, or the entire title, to profit without your permission, you can simply report them to the platform that they’re using or their local authorities, and they’ll be penalized.
However, the situation becomes more complicated when ghostwriting enters the chat. You are legally allowed to create a book idea and hire a professional writer to bring it to life.
However, if you’re not careful in outlining copyright and loyalties in your contract, the ghostwriter can, indeed, try to claim royalties to your published title.
This is, however, unlikely to happen because ghostwriters’ careers thrive off of being discrete. Even if there’s no Non-Disclosure Agreement, any professional ghostwriter is unlikely to ever reveal that they’re behind your title.
From a ghostwriter’s point of view, their work is not their own because of two main reasons:
- You created the entire book idea, which is a major contribution. There would be no book without it.
- Discretion is needed for other clients to wish to work with them. Revealing their clients without their permission would earn them a bad reputation, so they’d be unlikely to find work ever again.
Copyright and Royalties Discretion With Ghostwriters
The same rules apply when it comes to royalties. Ghostwriters are aware that their clients might earn royalties from publishing their work, but a vast majority of ghostwriters would never think that any of that revenue belonged to them. This is because of two main reasons:
- The Law. The copyright law, indeed, assigns the ownership of the written word to its original creator. However, an idea, or a creative concept, falls under the umbrella of creative work, and it entirely belongs to the client.
- Verbal agreement. Currently, even if you own as much as a single text message that proves that you hired a ghostwriter to write based on your book idea, there’s a great chance that it would be seen as binding if you ever got to any legal proceeding.
Because of this, ghostwriters are unlikely to ever attempt challenging their clients in terms of copyright and royalty claims.
Although the copyright law does a pretty good job at protecting everyone’s rights in creating and distributing creative work, you could still run into trouble if you come across that 0.1% of unethical ghostwriters who’d either like to take advantage of you or abuse their position.
Amazon Copyrights and Ghostwriters: What You Need to Outline in Your NDA
According to Amazon, the person who created the work is its owner. If you wish to distribute ghostwritten work on Amazon, you need a carefully designed NDA. You don’t have to submit the NDA to Amazon before uploading your ghostwritten book, but you need it if you ever come across a copyright claim.
How does Amazon’s Policy Views Copyright Ownership?
Amazon’s policy is quite detailed regarding copyright ownership. It prohibits using or representing another individual’s work as your own.
Because of this, any copyright claim can result in having your product or Amazon account suspended. The platform’s policy covers several key aspects of content publishing that you need to be aware of:
- Copyright ownership. You’re only allowed to publish “your work,” which means that you need an NDA when working with a ghostwriter.
- Trademarks. You can only use trademarks with permission, with an exception of product descriptions.
You can mention trademarks in your book description only in affiliation with your product. Still, you are legally liable for the accuracy of your claim, and Amazon can suspend your product or your entire account if you make false claims in your book description.
- Plagiarism and theft. To prevent abuse of other authors’ work, including citations, quotes, graphics, and images, Amazon requires you to adhere to the highest APA standards.
- Likewise, any visuals used in your book must belong to you in terms of copyright. You can use images that you created by yourself, or purchased legally from third parties. You can also use others’ work with their written permission, which you need to properly record and mention in your book.
What You Need to Outline in the NDA Before Publishing a Book on Amazon
Based on the previous sections, working with ghostwriters, editors, and graphic designers to create your book entails outlining the following:
- Transfer of copyright and royalties from the writer to yourself. Your NDA needs to outline that the writer is giving away the rights to the content in exchange for proper compensation.
- Terms of the agreement. If there’s any dispute between the ghostwriter and yourself regarding payment, this could create a rift and allow the ghostwriter to challenge ownership over the book.
After all, they’re giving up their rights in exchange for agreed-upon compensation. If you don’t meet your end of the bargain, they can pull back from theirs as well.
- Copyright infringement. Your NDA must specify the writer’s obligation not to use plagiarized content, images, or trademarks.
Ideally, it should also outline how the uniqueness and legality of their work are to be checked and verified, as well as outline the ramifications for any unethical behavior in terms of payment penalties and ending the agreement.
Remember, the transfer of the rights also transfers the liability from the ghostwriter to yourself.
If you’re not careful, the writer’s errors or mal intent to use images, trademarks, or others’ content without permission can reflect poorly on you. They can also cause legal problems if other authors make copyright claims against your work.
How to Prove Copyrights in the Case of an Amazon Claim?
No matter how ethical you are, you can still run into some trouble when working with ghostwriters. Although less likely, copyright claims can happen for various reasons.
What Copyright Claims Can Happen When Using Ghostwriters?
There are several types of copyright claims that might happen when using ghostwriters if you’re not careful:
- Copyright infringement. The writer can plagiarize other people’s work, or use trademarks, statics, graphs, and charts without permission. In that case, either a reader or a person owning the copyright can claim your book.
- Unintentional plagiarism. There are some cases when the writer gets information or materials to work with from their client. If you don’t understand the copyright law to the T, the writer can use trademarked or plagiarized work for their writing, which can later cause trouble.
- Unethical ghostwriters. If you fail to sign an NDA, a writer could make a copyright claim against you. If you can’t provide proof that you paid the writer to transfer copyright and royalties, they might win this claim. However, this is unlikely to happen because it would effectively mean the end of the ghostwriter’s career, and is otherwise little heard of.
What Kinds of Evidence Will You Need to Prove Copyright With Ghostwriters?
Keep records of all communications, contracts, paperwork, and payments made to the ghostwriter. That way, you’ll easily refute any copyright claims made by the ghostwriter.
Also, keep a record of your engagement in creating the work. Beyond copyright, this is useful to demonstrate your participation in book creation and could help if it’s revealed that you used a ghostwriter.
Finally, keep a record of copyright purchases and transfers. Store all receipts for images, graphs, charts, and designs you used, as well as services you purchased from other experts, like data processing and cover design.
How to Prevent Copyright Issues When Working With Ghostwriters
Adhere to the highest standards of ethical behavior, keep track of purchases and interactions, and ensure that the ghostwriter is also ethical. Do this using the following steps:
- Sign a contract. Outline exactly what standards the ghostwriter is expected to follow with content creation, citation, and reference. Define how you’ll check and verify this, and what the consequences will be for the ghostwriter if they don’t comply with the highest ethical standards.
- Obtain resources beforehand. If you want the ghostwriter or your content creation team to use images, citations, and other visuals, obtain them from reliable sources and ensure that you have the right to use and publish the work.
- Check and verify. Obtain access to plagiarism checkers, and also check citations and references throughout the book. Don’t publish the work before making sure that all of the copyright and trademark rules are followed. Check the image, graph, chart, and other content origins.
Hiring a ghostwriter is a great way to breathe life into your book idea. The more unique insight and visuals you provide, the better! However, keep in mind that by purchasing the copyright to the book, you also transfer liability. Check your writer’s work thoroughly, and don’t let any copyright errors slip by you!
Here at The Urban Writers, we train our team to comply with the highest ethical and quality standards when it comes to content and art creation. We triple-check content authenticity/plagiarism, sources, references, and citations to make sure your content fully complies with the law.
If you need a ghostwriter, but you’re worried about working with strangers, we are here!