ISBN and Copyright

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ISBN and copyright explained for US and Canadian self publishing authors so that they might find peace of mind in protecting the rights of their work.

ISBN – International Standard Book Number

When you publish with First Choice Books, we can assign an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) unique to your book. The ISBN identifies First Choice Books as the printer, and is available for immediate use. Or, if you would like to apply for your own ISBN, and list your own publishing imprint, you can do so. In Canada, ISBNs can be obtained through the Library and Archives Collections Canada.  Canadian ISBNs are free. Start HERE for applying for an ISBN.


In the US, American authors can obtain an ISBN through the US ISBN office.  They cost around $100 US. Please note that ISBNs are international numbers: you only need one ISBN for a book to sell it anywhere in the world. You do not need a US ISBN to sell your Canadian book in the US, or vice versa.

Multiple Editions

Multiple editions of the same book do require separate ISBNs. Examples: Hard cover, soft cover, eBook are all different editions. Revised and updated versions of a book also require a new ISBN, especially if the title of the book changes.

Magazines, Journals, Annuals – ISSN  (International Standard Serial Number)

If you are publishing a serial publication that appears regularly, like a monthly magazine or an annual journal or anthology, you will need an ISSN, as opposed to an ISBN which is for books. You can obtain your own ISSN with the Canada Library and Archives here. They are free for Canadians.
First Choice Books does not provide ISSNs for serial publications.

Copyright Notice

Your book should have a copyright notice. It usually goes on the second page of the book, after the title page. Here’s the standard notice:

Copyright ©2021 AUTHOR’S FULL NAME

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, and recording or otherwise – without prior written permission from the author.  The exception would be brief passages by a reviewer in a newspaper or magazine or online. To perform any of the above is an infringement of copyright law.


Printed and bound in Victoria, BC, Canada by First Choice Books and Victoria Bindery

You should also list on this page any credits for services such as editing, photographs, proof reading, layout and design, translation, etc.

If First Choice Books is doing the layout and design of the book interior for you, we will format this page. Make sure to send the information needed for the copyright holder’s full name, and any additional credits.

If you are doing your own layout and sending Print Ready PDFs, please insert the copyright page in the book. If you would like First Choice to assign an ISBN, we can let you know the ISBN. Email:

You retain the copyright

When you publish with First Choice Books, the copyright of the book remains with you. You are free to make changes to the book at any time, or have it printed elsewhere. We can supply you with high resolution PDFs of your book’s print files ($50) or the full layout files if we did some or all of the design work here. ($150) You are free to publish variations on your work in other ways at any time.

Copyright Registration with CIPO

To protect your copyright, as a Canadian self-published author you can choose to register your copyright with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. This step is not required to publish your book — the copyright belongs to you automatically, as the creator of the work. But if someone tries to sell copies of your work without your permission, then it is useful to be able to prove that the work is yours. Registering your work with the CIPO gives you a registration certificate and number that you can use in court as evidence that you own the protected work. Here’s where you can start the process to register your book: CIPO

Stock photography

Note: Stock photographs and illustrations are usually licensed for specific usages. If First Choice Books has purchased stock photography usage specifically for your book, you may not use that photo for alternate purposes. If you wish to do so, most stock photo agencies will allow you to purchase rights to further usage of the photograph or illustration. Please inquire if you have questions about photo/illustration usage.

How does copyright apply to my original work?

Copyright refers to the ownership of a creation by its creator. It applies to any created work, such as literature, art, music, dramatic works, etc.  As per the Canadian  Copyright Act, copyright in a work exists for the life of the author/creator, the remainder of the calendar year in which he or she is deceased, plus fifty years after the end of that calendar year.

Under copyright legislation, the author is the party that not only writes something, but that also takes a photograph, designs computer software, produces audiovisual materials, composes music, designs maps, or draws illustrations in either paper format or other mediums.

It is important to note that the Copyright Act does not protect ideas, concepts, or themes, but it does protect the language and words used to express such ideas, concepts and themes.

In Canada, copyright comes into existence when a work is created. Under Canadian copyright legislation rights of the author are protected whether or not the author has marked the work with the standard copyright symbol “©”.

Using copyrighted material created by others

To use copyrighted material (lyrics, artwork, etc.) for your book, you must obtain documented permission from the copyright holder. Keep the permission on file for as long as your book is in publication, and make a note of it in your copyright page. Remember that any work you use and did not create yourself requires permission to avoid a copyright violation. This includes works found on the internet.

Public Domain

Once the copyright expires (50 years after an author’s death in Canada), the work becomes “public domain”, which frees it for use by the general public without copyright violation. But for older works the copyright can be renewed or extended: Never assume a work is copyright free without researching its status.


Read more about Canadian copyright.

Read the full Canadian Copyright Act.

Please note that copyright law differs between countries. Be sure to research the laws in your country if you are a citizen of a country other than Canada. International agreements mean that countries will respect the copyright of works created in other countries.

Read about Copyright Law in the United States.

Read about Copyright Law in the United Kingdom.