What is a Copyright Page?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A copyright page is a page near the front of a book that includes various pieces of information including details about the book publisher, the publication date, where the book was printed, and copyright information that is meant to protect the intellectual property held within the book. If the book has entered into a second edition or higher, then this page will also include information about the current edition as well as previous editions. For this reason, the page is sometimes referred to as the edition page. The copyright page of a book is usually printed on the first one to five leaves within the book.

Most published books are covered by copyright.
Most published books are covered by copyright.

It is common for a copyright page to include information about how the contents of a book may and may not be used by readers. In some cases, publishers will include a sentence or two indicating that brief quotations of the book are permissible. This is especially useful if quotations from the book are likely to be useful to book reviewers or those writing academic papers that reference the book. This statement may also indicate that reproducing the book or storing it in an electronic retrieval system is not allowed. Although the legal statements on a copyright page are often rather brief, they are meant to give a very clear and definite picture of the ways that the material within the text may and may not be used.

Most casual readers choose to ignore the copyright page.
Most casual readers choose to ignore the copyright page.

If a book requires a disclaimer, this may also appear on the copyright page. If, for example, there is a possibility that one of the characters in a novel can be read as a representation of an actual person, this statement may be required to protect the publisher and author from certain kinds of legal entanglements. Some publishers always include this information on their standard copyright pages. Books that quote other sources at length may include information about this on their copyright pages. This usually acknowledges the use and identifies the fact that permission to quote the source has been granted.

Information that precedes a copyright page may include promotional material for the book. This sort of material may include quotes from favorable book reviews or particularly interesting excerpts that appear later in the text. Title pages may also precede copyright pages. In many cases, the copyright page is found on the left hand side when the book is open to that page. This page may face a page that includes a dedication, a table of contents, or similar introductory information.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


My photographer friend always gets a legal copyright of images he shoots. He has had many problems with people trying to copy and paste photos he has taken on their own social network sites, and he promptly reminds them that they could be fined in a court of law for doing that.

He has received national acclaim for his work in our local newspaper. His photos are so popular that the paper has them listed for sale on their website. Often, parents want to buy pictures he has taken of their kids at ballgames, and they can legally do so by paying for them.


Before I started selling my CDs, I wanted to make sure that all the buyers knew I had the copyright to the music. I lived in Nashville for a short while, and I had heard stories of musicians stealing song ideas from each other.

To keep anyone from getting away with it, I sent in my CD to the copyright office so that it would be legally on file. After I received my copyright document, I made a section of my CD leaflet into the equivalent of a book’s copyright page. I included the symbol with the year the CD was recorded and my name beside it, along with a couple of disclaimers. I haven’t had any problems with thievery.


Authors who want to get an actual copyright certificate as proof that they have the right listed on their copyright page have to pay for it. I recently checked the copyright office’s website for information on sending in a work, and I found a big difference in prices for the two accepted methods.

The cheapest way to get your work to their office is to email it to them as a PDF. I guess they are trying to be environmentally conscious and encourage people to save paper. Either that or their office is filling up with physical manuscripts.

To send them an actual copy of your book on paper in order to receive a certificate of copyright, you have to pay roughly twice as much. The only people who still do this are probably the ones without internet access or any knowledge of computers.


I typed a manuscript for my friend, who is an author. He used a publishing company that bound the book and gave it a cover, but he had to promote the book himself. He basically just wanted to have it in printed form where he could sell it to those interested in reading it.

He decided that the first page of the book should be the dedication page. The very next page was the copyright page. He felt that it was very important and should come before the table of contents and list of other works.

He had applied for a copyright certificate, but even though he had not yet received it in the mail, he knew that he would get it by the time the book was published.


@everetra - I think that would be a fair conclusion.

I'd like to point out as well that all it takes to copyright a piece of written work is to write it, and slap the copyright symbol on it. As an author you have an automatic copyright.

While there does exist a copyright office which you have to apply to in order to have an official copyright for your work, the work is automatically protected from the moment you write it.


I read a book of interesting stories and anecdotes, mostly used as illustrations for public speaking. Some of the stories I had heard before.

When I flipped to the page with the copyright statement, the author stated that many of the stories had been handed down through various sources and that it would be impossible to acknowledge all of the sources.

He just gave a general thank you to everyone without citing names. I thought that this was rather an odd acknowledgement but I guess with some works, like collections of stories or jokes, this would have to be the extent of the acknowledgement.

It would have to appear on the copyright page I suppose because this is where all the legal disclaimers appear.

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