Copyright is earned the moment you create and fix your work in some tangible form, and to be copyrightable, it must be original. You must display the © symbol, or the word ‘COPYRIGHT’, the year created, and your name, to accompany your work. (On a Mac, type Option–G to get the symbol. On Windows, press Ctrl+Alt+C)
Copyright gives authors of creative works the right to control:
- copying & reproduction
- public performance
- public display
Copyright can be bought and sold. It may have great commercial or monetary value, or nothing at all. If the work and its copyright do have value, then be prepared to negotiate and haggle over what it’s worth.
Mere possession of a book, photo, CD, painting, video doesn’t give you the copyright to it, that belongs to the author, creator, publisher, or some other entity.
Optional registration online with the U.S. Copyright Office, by following their submission form and paying a necessary fee, gives important advantages:
- it’s a strong deterrent against infringers
- it proves your authorship
- it entitles you to collect statutory damages and attorney’s fees, thus a powerful inducement to settle
Not everything needs to be registered, perhaps only the work likely to be most valuable. Everyday snapshots and test shots can do without registration.