When you create an original artistic work in California such as a painting, a book, a musical composition, a computer program, a website, etc., you receive an automatic copyright to it once it reaches its final form. This gives you the right to affix the copyright symbol to it so as to claim it as yours and yours alone.
As the U.S. Copyright Office explains, however, if you desire to have full copyright protection, you will need to register your copyright with the USCO. Why? Because only your official copyright registration certificate protects all of your legal rights. Without it, you have only your word against someone who infringes on your copyright that you actually created your work before the infringer claims (s)he did.
You receive the following benefits once you go through the relatively simple and inexpensive registration process:
- A copyright certificate specific to your work showing your date of registration and the unique copyright number attached to it
- The right to attach this information to any copies of your work that you sell to others or to whom you license the right to use your work
- A public record of your work and the fact that you created it
- Legal evidence of your ownership of your work in the event you must sue someone for copyright infringement
- The ability to not only recover damages from the infringer but also recompense of your attorney’s fees and other costs of litigation
In other words, by registering your copyright you preclude others from copying or selling your work without your permission.