The other day I was discussing the nature of Copyright with my sister-in-law Gloria (who is an attorney) … I stated that “Copyright is automatic upon creation of a work”.
Gloria said I was incorrect … that you had to register for a copyright … and that you had no basis in court unless you do register the copyright.
This was quite a shock to me … so I decided to do some research.
Turns out that Gloria was partially right in a technical sense … and completely correct in a practical sense.
According to the Copyright Office …
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.
In other words … your work is automatically copyrighted as soon as you create it … but said copyright is effectively useless, from a legal perspective, unless you register it with the Copyright office (which, I think, costs $35 / registration).
I suspect this legal detail is lost on a lot of people.