How to Copyright Your Work
Publication and registration with the Library of Congress is not a prerequisite to securing a Copyright.
A work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. An author's thoughts, whether on paper or computer are automatically protected by the Copyright law.
Use of a copyright notice on an author's work is no longer required by the law but may be beneficial as it informs the public the work is protected by copyright. It shows the year and name of the author thereby eliminating the possibility of "innocent" infringement in the event of an infringement suit.
Registration of Copyright with the Library of Congress is not necessary but is highly recommended. It establishes a public record of the author's claim to copyright. If registration is made prior to any infringement of the work, the author will have available the right to claim statutory damages and attorney's fees. Without prior registration the author can only claim actual damages and profits made by the defendant. This alone makes prior registration advisable. In the event of an infringement issue, registration must be made prior to a suit being filed in court, but if an author waits until an infringement has occurred before registering, the availability of suing for statutory damages and attorney's fees is lost.
You may submit your collected works as one, with a title and index to the Library of Congress. The fee is $30. It is recommended that the material be sent certified or registered with a return receipt requested (certified is the more affordable option) if the author wants to be assured that the material was received by the Library of Congress and the date of receipt since the Library of Congress cannot give that information out over the phone. The date of receipt will be the official registration date and a certificate of registration will be issued in approximately 8 months from the date of receipt.
To speak with an information's specialist or to order registration forms, you may call the Library of Congress at (202) 707-3000 or TTY at (202) 707-6737, Monday through Friday (8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET). They may also be contacted at: http://www.loc.gov/copyright
or at their mailing address:
There are also links in the FAQ section of Passions at http://netpoets.com/misc/faq.htm#steal for anyone desiring further information about Copyright, registration and International Copyright issues. I strongly recommend that every author check out these links.
Protecting the exclusive rights to your work is probably the most prudent step that an author can take in avoiding possible infringement issues in the future.