I made a HUGE mistake when I published my book on Smashwords. I was reading the preview of another book, Digilife written by a friend Timothy Geigner, and his copyright notice got me thinking about mine. I put in no thought into the copyright notice that Smashwords requires in all books it publishes. I thought the requirement was a little annoying and so I just copy/pasted one of the example copyright notices. Then I got to thinking about it and how much it disagreed with my overall philosophy with copyright.
Here is the original copyright notice:
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
I think this is very bad for many reasons. Chief amongst these is the first sentence. I hate the idea of things we buy only being “licenses”. That is so limiting and frustrating for many reasons. I hate it. Too many businesses are moving in the direction of wanting to remove any kind of fair use and first sale rights that we still enjoy. I don’t want to be a part of that.
Second, I don’t mind you giving this book to other people. That is how word spreads. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I made the whole book freely available on my website. So why would I care that you let your friend or family member borrow it.
Third, The idea that I am upset with the idea that you didn’t pay for it prior to reading it as implied in the second to last sentence is absolutely absurd. I am not upset in any way. I am happy that people have read my book.
With these thoughts in mind, I wrote a new copyright notice that reflects my thoughts on this matter, and even references the book itself. So here is the new copyright notice:
My thoughts on copyright are very flexible as can be seen when reading Chapters 2, 3 and 7 of this book. While I would love for you to pay for this book, I can understand why you might be reluctant to do so. If you do find that you like it and want me to write more, feel free to drop a buck on it.
So there you have it. Enjoy the book.