Writers have adopted fictitious names and pseudonyms to disguise themselves for a number of reasons: to hide their true gender (Alice Sheldon writes as James Tiptree, Jr.), to hide their work in a different area (Isaac Asimov writes science fiction juvenile like Paul French) and to hide the sheer volume of his work (Robert Heinlein writes as Anson McDonald and under other names). Pseudonyms have also been created by publishing houses to unify series of books such as "Franklin W. Dixon" and "Carolyn Keene" for the mystery series The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and "Kenneth Robeson" for the series Doc Savage and Avenger..
Regardless of the reason authors write under a pseudonym, the United States Copyright Office provides protection for works written under a pseudonym. Here you will see how to register the copyright of a book with a pseudonym.
Step 1. Decide whether or not you want to reveal your name to the Copyright Office
You do not have to provide your real name (legal name) to the Copyright Office to register your copyright. If you choose not to give your real name when registering your work, your work receives copyright protection either for 95 years from the year it was published or for 120 years from the date it was created, whichever period ends earlier.. If you decide to give your real name, it remains part of the records of the Copyright Office and cannot be removed later. However, the length of time your work receives copyright protection is equal to what it would have received if you had written and registered your work under your real name, the years of the author's life plus 70 years.
If you choose not to give your real name when registering your copyright, you can provide your name to the Copyright Office later. If you register a following work using your real name as well as your pseudonym, previous works written under that pseudonym receive copyright protection for the life of the author plus 70 years
Step 2. Consider pre-registering your work
Pre-registration does not replace registration, but it does allow you to file a copyright infringement lawsuit while your work is in progress, if you think someone is likely to do so before you complete it. (This is much more likely if you are writing a book in a genre made popular by the success of a particular job phenomenon, such as the Harry Potter or "Twilight" books.) Pre-registration is also available for music works, sound recordings, computer software, films, and photographs used in marketing or advertising.
- You can only pre-register your work online by sending a description of it of no more than 2,000 characters (about 330 words) in length and a processing fee, which can be paid by credit card, through the network of the Automatic Clearing House (ACH) through an account that you have previously established with the Copyright Office. (You do not include the work itself.) For more information about pre-registration, visit:
- Once the Copyright Office processes your pre-registration request, they will notify you by email. The email notice will include the information you submitted, a pre-registration number, and the date the pre-registration took effect. You can obtain a certified copy of the notice in the Certifications and Documents section of the Copyright Office.
- Once you pre-register your work, you must register the copyright within 3 months of publication or within a month after you found out that someone infringed your copyright. If you do not register it within this time, you will not be able to file a lawsuit against an offending party until more than two weeks have passed since you published your work.
Step 3. Register with the Copyright Office
You can do that in 1 of 3 ways: using the online electronic version of the Copyright Office, downloading and completing the CO form to fill out on your personal computer, or obtaining a printed registration form from the Copyright Office.. Regardless of the method you use, you must fill in the "Copyright Plaintiff" field and also check the "Pseudonyms" box to indicate that you are using a pseudonym. You must include the required payment with your application. br>
- To access the electronic option, select “Electronic Copyright Office” from the Copyright Office website (https://www.copyright.gov/). They will ask if you intend to submit an electronic or hard copy of your work. (You can send an electronic or hard copy of any published work with this option.) Submitting your registration online allows you to register for less money than the other 2 options and also gives you faster processing, the ability to pay electronically, acknowledgment by email of the submission and electronic tracking of the status of your request.
- You can obtain Form CO by selecting “Forms” on the Copyright Office website at https://www.copyright.gov/. This form includes a barcode that allows the Copyright Office to process the form with its scanners; Since each barcode is unique for the application registration, you can only use Form CO to register the job for which you have applied. After completing a form on your computer, print it out.
- Requests for physical forms should be directed to the Library of Congress, U. S. Copyright Office-TX, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20559-622. (The most important form for a book is the TX Form.) Use the same address to submit a copyright registration and your payment by correspondence; a completed Form CO is sent to the same address. (You can also print your electronic registration form and mail it in if you wish, but then you will have to pay the higher fee for non-electronic processing.)
Step 4. Deposit a copy of your work with the Copyright Office
If your work is not published, a complete copy of the manuscript will be required. If your work has been published since 1978, the Copyright Office will then require 2 complete copies of the best edition. (If it was published before 1978, the requirement is 2 copies of the first edition.)
If you submit your registration online, the Copyright Office will instruct you to print a proof of shipment that will go along with a physical copy of the deposit. It is only good for the job you are registering
- Using a pseudonym can also complicate the sale of reproduction and reprint rights for your work, the succession of your rights by your heirs, and most importantly, the processing of your advance payments and royalties. Before deciding to use a pseudonym, consult a lawyer to help you avoid these problems
- Don't use a pseudonym to capitalize on another writer's fame, try to circumvent a right-of-first-review clause with your current publisher, evade a libel lawsuit, or avoid paying income taxes.