When I first decided to start writing books, one of the things that some people tried to worry me about was “copyright”. If you are not a lawyer then the various rumours might confuse you about what it means, but generally, you can afford to keep calm over copyright.

Historically, copyright really came into being when technology enabled the production of large numbers of books. In England, the Statute of Anne in 1710 is often described as the world’s first copyright law, but earlier examples have been described – therefore it depends on whose version of history you look at. In any case, following the English law, copyright began to appear in other countries. In 1886, the Berne Convention was introduced and even today this is the system that effectively ensures the mutual recognition of copyright between different countries.

Perhaps you may be paranoid that your work will be stolen by someone else. People end up stressing about this and it prevents them starting on their work in the first place. Then, if they do manage to progress with their book they become scared about showing it to anyone else. While it is theoretically possible that some mysterious stranger/creature/alien could try and steal your ideas, through various simple precautions it is unlikely they will get away with it. On top of that, the potential thief will still have to go through the lengthy process of publishing the book from your ideas without any guarantee that they will be successful.

Be Roman about copyright

Nowadays, as soon as you write something it is considered to be under copyright. Therefore, if you are writing a book, worry less about these sorts of issues than completing your project. Interestingly, in ancient Rome the idea of making money from writing was considered an unworthy goal for an author – and yet money is probably the main reason why people stress about copyright issues today!