Working in the Word Mines – Copyright
How do I copyright my work?
This is a popular question in writing communities, and not just among people looking to self-publish. It also comes up from new authors worried about sending out short fiction to magazines, posting snippets on their blogs, or even before sending out novels to agents. Fortunately, it has the best possible answer.
Don’t worry about it, you’re already covered.
From the horse’s mouth, aka the U.S. Copyright Office official FAQ:
When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.
Piece of cake. You’re covered for your entire lifetime, plus 70 years after your death. Personally, even as a holder of copyright myself, I feel that’s a bit much. If you’re interested in why and what the downsides are for these extremely long copyright terms, take a minute to listen to the entertaining and eloquent CGPGrey on the topic: