How Do I Copyright My Work?
If you want to copyright your work, this will explain the procedure and tell what is necessary to make it legally effective.
It much easier than you think to get a copyright. First, you will need to put a notice of copyright on every copy of the work that will reach the public. This will protect your rights to the work for the first five years. To add to the security of your work, you must then register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office within fives years of the time your work is made public.
A Notice of Copyright means that there is a statutory requirement that the public be given formal notice of every work in which a copyright is claimed. The purpose of this is to prevent someone from violating your copyright inadvertently. The notice informs the public that your work is copyrighted and that copying or sale of it, if unauthorized by you, will constitute an infringement of your rights. This will result in a penalty for the infringer.
The earlier you register your copyright, the better it may be for you, because your rights are more firmly established after registering than before. Also, you will be more likely to be able to prove that you own a copyright in a court of law if you have registered it.
The Notice of Copyright must be placed on all copies of your work that might reach the public. It must contain either the copyright symbol, the word copyright or the abbreviation Copr. The work must also contain your name or the name of the owner of the copyright, an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized or some other generally known designation of the owner.
If the work is a compilation or derivative work incorporating previously published material, give the year of first publication of the compilation or derivative work will suffice. To be legally effective, the notice of copyright must be in a position to be easily seen by the public. The outright omission of a copyright notice does not automatically forfeit protection and throw the work into the public domain, as was the case under former law. Today, omissions of the notice, intentional or not, do not invalidate the copyright if the following applies. Only a small number of copies have been made public and registration for the work has already been made or is made with five years of the publication without notice. Also, a reasonable effort must be made to add notice to copies being publicly distributed in the U.S. after the omission is discovered.