Q: Do I need a license or registration before I start publishing?
Answer: Because the US Constitution protects
the right of a free press, Americans do not need a license to
become publishers. However, there are many benefits to registering
your publication by obtaining an International Standard Serial
Number or ISSN. It's also important to obtain a copyright on
material that you publish. And every publisher should understand
the international copyright laws.
Please pick up a book from Nolo Press called The
Copyright Handbook by Stephen Fishman. Since you're a publisher, you'll
be dealing with copyright law from many different angles, and you should have
a good reference book like this one to help you. Call Nolo at 1-800-992-6656
or order it online from Amazon. Another helpful web site is The
Copyright Web Site.
Obtaining an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is
separate from copyright registration. The Copyright Office does
not administer ISSN assignment. For information about obtaining
an ISSN, write to: Library of Congress, National Serials Data
Program, Serial Record Division, Washington, D.C. 20540-4160.
Or obtain information from the Library of Congress Website at www.loc.gov/issn You
get an ISSN number from them. Once you've got that, it will take
care of any trademark issues you may have. The ISSN is also used
by libraries and database publishers to keep track of publications.
And you must have an ISSN to obtain preferred periodicals rates
from the USPS. Its a useful number!
Hiring employees will require getting state and federal tax
identification numbers, just like any other business must have.
Finally, check with your local city, state or county department
of commerce about business licenses. And make sure you find out
from them whether or not you need a resale permit.
Read everything you need to know about starting new publications
in our publishing business how-to book, Starting
and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine. You can
learn about creating content, recruiting freelancers, and digital
workflows in our new book, Every
Nonprofits Guide to Publishing.