I feel it's important to tackle since a recent discussion with another writer reminded me that there are still a lot of people - especially here in PH - who aren't aware of the ins and outs of self-publishing. More so when it comes to the legalities.
If you've read the article, then you know that the more pressing issue hasn't anything to do with the book at all. Rather, the big question is the outcome of this lawsuit could change the definition of 'publisher' where companies like Apple and Amazon are concerned.
(For the record: I do not consider Amazon et al as publishers. I'm the publisher of my own books, and they simply provide me with a platform or services to distribute my books to readers)
In any case, if you are self-publishing / have self-published your work, it's best to play it safe and consider yourself SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for everything that has to do with your book. If you don't take care with your choice of cover, use of copyrighted material in your book or marketing materials, you might very well be sued and imprisoned as well as fined for it.
If you are new to self-publishing---
- Always make sure you have the RIGHT to use a photo or illustration that you want to use for your book's cover. You may or may not have to pay for this right.
- Even if you were the one who took the photo, it's also possible that you're not allowed to use it for your book cover (e.g. a photo of a celebrity). Same goes for your own illustrations (e.g. a drawing or even a caricature of a real-life senator, Mickey Mouse, or Sam Smith).
- You are almost always not allowed to use lyrics - no matter how short - of any song in your book without express permission. You may or may not have to pay for use. Same goes for excerpts for most books, plays, articles, and essays (basically any work created by someone else).
- You are definitely NOT allowed to include any company logo or trademark in your book cover without permission (e.g. Nike's check symbol or BMW's logo).