So, you have finally finished that novel you started. Or you have put together a book of family recipes or you have written your autobiography. Now you want to insure that no one else can legally use your work for profit. In the United States, there are simple procedures to follow to copyright written work.
Provide notice of copyright by affixing the copyright symbol to your work. They traditional ‘c in a circle’ or the word ‘copyright’ followed by the date the work was written and then your name are sufficient notice of copyright. Technically, your work is copyrighted the moment you set it to paper but you cannot sue for copyright infringement unless you have registered it with the copyright office.
There are many types of literary works including databases and computer programs. Your work does not have to be published to be copyrighted. Visit or call the U.S. copyright office to make sure that your work qualifies as a literary work.
Choose which form to use. You will use the short form only if the work is completely new and you are the sole author. If you used work from other things you have written or you have a co-author then you need to use the standard TX form.
Include the appropriate payment with your registration. Check the website or call the copyright office to ensure you are enclosing the appropriate amount.
Generally, copyright remains yours for the length of your life plus 70 years. There are exceptions so check with the copyright office.
Each country has its own rules on copyright. The United States does have copyright relations with various other countries. Check the U.S. Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/register/literary.html .