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What do you have to do to protect your own work in the United States?

You don't even have to put the copyright symbol - that's this - on it. You own copyright from the moment you put your work in physical form.

But it's never a bad idea to include the copyright mark, just establish a creation date and to remind people that there is a known owner.

To mark the work, you need to include the copyright symbol (or the word copyright), the name of the copyright owner, and the date. These are samples of acceptable methods of marking something:

Copyright 2008 John Smith
2008 Jane Smith
Copyright 2008 Renton Technical College

Next, we'll learn about negotiating with publishers to protect your work.

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