The Berne Convention establishes that literary works are protected under copyright, without any formal registration of rights, in the countries that agree to this Convention. This means that as soon as a literary work is created, it is considered to be protected by copyright. All European Union Member States are parties to the Berne Convention.

To obtain copyright protection on a book, authors in the EU do not need to register their publication, as protection arises automatically;  but they are required to satisfy the copyright requirements that are imposed in their country. For example, one such requirement is the original character of the work.

Copyright combines rights of the author and rights to the exploitation of works. Concerning the publication of a book, authors are usually required to assign the copyright or grant a licence to publishers in order to allow them to make copies and to distribute the work. These arrangements commonly include an agreement on the payment of royalties to the author.