Aspects to consider for the launch of a printed or digital book

Launching a book is an experience that combines a variety of emotions for the author, after having successfully completed the creative stage that surely involved several months, if not years, with a series of legal aspects that must be carefully assessed due to their economic and legal implications on the medium and long term. For these reasons, in the present article we will expose some of the most important legal aspects to be considered in the development and launching process of printed or digital books.

The basic concept from which any creator must begin from pertains to the fact that literary works are protected by copyright, reason why although their registration is not essential to obtain legal protection, executing this process before the competent national office on the matter is extremely valuable as it represents a simple and efficient way of proving authorship and titleship of the work, apart from constituting conclusive evidence in any criminal or legal process in which it may be involved.

Now, the first decision that authors face is contracting with a publisher or self-publishing their book, highlighting that the possibility arises, depending on the option chosen, that some or other tasks must be carried out.

On one hand, in case the author choses to work with a publisher, the main aspect to be assessed is the contract between the parties, which must be studied in detail no matter the size or trajectory of the publisher with which the agreement will be subscribed. In this way, the obligations retained by each party must be examined, as well as the promotion and dissemination activities that the publisher will carry out, royalties to be paid, the rights agreed, the applicable territorial scope, and the term of the agreement. These aspects are essential for the book’s successful economic management, as the marketing capacity of the publisher and the book’s potential markets play a central role in the definition of the agreement to be executed.

On the other hand, for authors who are willing to self-publish, the tasks to be developed are more varied since they must begin by executing the legal deposit of a determined number of copies before Public Libraries stated by Colombian law, as on the contrary, they could be sanctioned with fines imposed by the National Copyright Direction. Likewise, it is important to request the ISBN before the Colombian Book Chamber, a standard international identification number that is constituted as a requirement to access certain legal benefits, such as the exemption of VAT for books (law 98 from 1993) or to participate in public purchases and market the contents of diverse physical and digital bookstores.

Additionally, taking into consideration the idea of self-publishing and carrying out the sale of the work exclusively through electronic means, it is also necessary to: i) incorporate a DRM system to the digital version to protect the book against unauthorized copying and redistribution; ii) use the different on-line sales portals and digital bookstores (such as Amazon or Google Play Books,) to manage the intellectual property rights, as well as carry out promotion and sales. With the help of these internet giants, publications that infringe intellectual property rights can be detected and eliminated, such as falsifications and unauthorized copies of their book.

Last, the need to request the trademark for certain aspects related to the book, as this may potentiate its marketing and facilitate the exploration of diverse markets. For example, the Harry Potter saga, by recognized English author J. K. Rowling, has an exploitation scope that extends far beyond that of books, as movies, stationary accessories, toys, and others have been developed, reason why currently, there are multiple trademark registrations for Harry Potter for the different products and services offered.

At My Brand, we work to offer you comprehensive support along the entire launch and marketing process for your book or creative project, with a strategic vision that not only addresses the legal aspect, but also considers the economic and technological elements that can generate an impact on your business model, and marketing of your work.

Natalia Tovar
Associate Attorney