Registration Is Not Required For a Valid Copyright
First, understand that you don't need to register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office in order to have a valid copyright. You have a valid copyright as soon as your work is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression". This is a phrase used by the Copyright Act and means that your work must be written down or recorded.
Although registration with the Copyright Office is not required to have a valid copyright, registration does provide several benefits:
the establishment of a public record and evidence of your claim as the valid copyright owner of your work
the ability to file a federal lawsuit against someone who uses your work without your permission
eligibility to receive statutory damages and attorneys' fees in the event you file and win a copyright infringement lawsuit
The Registration Process
Registering your copyright is fairly straightforward. To register your copyright, you must submit three items to the Copyright Office:
A completed application. The Copyright Office encourages copyright owners to use online registration for all filings for which online registration is available. To register online, you first create a free account on the Copyright Office’s website.
A deposit of your work. A deposit is a copy of the work you are registering. If your work is published both online and in the form of physical copies offline, you must follow the deposit rules applicable to the physical version.
The filing fee. Filing fees change periodically and you should verify current fees at the website of the Copyright Office prior to filing.
Processing time varies depending on the Copyright Office’s backlog of applications. Processing time may take several months and sometimes up to or over a year. However, the effective date or your registration is the date on which the Copyright Office receives your completed application.