Guide to the Law for Authors and Writers in the U.S.

If you’re a writer or author, or aspiring to be one, there are some important areas of the law you should know about to protect your work and help you stay out of legal trouble. We will primarily focus on authors and writers of books and eBooks. For writers of blogs, see our Guide to the Law for Bloggers.

This page is a guide to laws that apply throughout the United States. Your state may provide additional protections in some of these areas, so be sure to also check your state’s laws. And as always, speak to a lawyer before taking any major actions (or decisions not to act) based on this information.

1. Copyright

It’s very important for writers to have a good understanding of copyright law, in order to protect your own work, and to avoid being sued for copyright infringement.

2. Privacy Law

If you write about real people, and their lives, you need to know about privacy law.

3. Free Speech

You should generally know about free speech rights and laws. 

4. Marketing & Endorsements

Do I need to disclose my relationship to products I review or endorse?

Yes, see our Guide to Laws about Reviews and/or Endorsing Products or Services

What else does a writer need to know about marketing?

See our Guide to Marketing Law.

5. Journalism

If you write about “newsworthy” stories, you should know about the laws for journalists.

6. Business Law

Is my book a business?

If you self-publish and sell your book directly to consumers, you are a business. Thus you need to know about business law. If you are working with a publisher, you would need to know about publishing contracts.

Can I protect my book name and prevent others from using it?

In general, book titles are not entitled to protection. However, if they are part of a series, the name of the series may be eligible for trademark protection.

Exercise Your Rights

Find a lawyer to assist with your needs related to writing books.

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