An article at Patent Pending points out that you don’t have to file a formal copyright application in order to own a copyright in their creation, but goes on to stress the benefits if you do: the enforcement potential is huge, if you have taken the precaution of filing for copyright before you were infringed.
“Under current copyright law, if you just create something, you own a copyright in that thing, whether it is a statue, a book, a poem, a photograph, a piece of furniture, or a painting. To keep someone from copying you, you just have to file for a copyright and sue them for copyright infringement, assuming a cease and desist letter doesn’t work. If you can prove you created it first, and they copied it, you can get in injunction and make them stop copying it. (…)”
“However, if you had filed for copyright within 90 days of publication of your creation, or before it was copied, you could stand to win an injunction, attorney fees, and the damages specified in the statute, which is so many dollars per copy that has been made. What that possible outcome adds up to is a huge hammer held over the head of the copier. (…) That filing has given you tremendous leverage, and you can enforce your copyright without the lawsuit.”
“Copyright is so easy to file that you can do it yourself easily for the $30 filing fee. The enforcement potential is huge, if you have taken the precaution of filing for copyright before you were infringed. So file for copyright on any original creation, such as web sites, greeting cards, books, articles, drawings, photos, furniture designs, software, clothing styles, videos, animations, and anything that is an original creation. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office for the forms to fill out for filing. (…)”