Copyright is a legal right that gives a person or company exclusive ownership of creative work. It is a form of protection granted to the authors of original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. It is a legal right that allows creators to control how their work is used. The creator of the work is also known as the copyright holder.
Copyright law gives an author, or the right holder, the exclusive right to make or authorize copies of a work, to publish the work, or other exclusive rights. Copyright grants an author or owner exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and create derivative works based on the original work. The owner of the copyright has the right to prevent someone else from making an unauthorized copy of the work. Copyright generally continues for the life of the author plus 70 years, subject to statutory or court-imposed extensions.
As soon as an idea is written down, the author of that idea is entitled to enforce their rights against others who may attempt to duplicate it or claim it as their own. You can use the © symbol along with your name and the year of publication as soon as you publish the work. Official registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required before using the symbol. However, the proper filing of a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office serves as prima facie, or sufficient, evidence of ownership of the idea and enables the copyright holder to sue the infringing user for damages and attorney’s fees.
The U.S. Copyright Office handles all official registrations in the United States. At the time of publication of this post, the registration fees start at $45 for a single author/same claimant application filed online.
Generally, copyright ownership can be proven through an examination of the author's official records and registration with the Copyright Office. See the Copyright Office's helpful resources for more information on copyright registration and transfer.