Copyright is quite simply the legal ownership of an artistic creation. For authors, this means the legal ownership of their written work. For artists and illustrators, the same is true for their visual creations; for musicians, their music; and so on. Under current copyright law, an artistic creation is automatically copyrighted and the copyright held by its creator as soon as the work is in tangible form. In other words, an idea cannot be copyrighted, but as soon as the idea can be read, viewed, or heard, the artistic work is copyrighted. So, as soon as the words you are now reading were typed, this work was automatically copyrighted.
The copyright for an artistic work can be registered, but it does not have to be registered. If you wish to register a copyright in the United States, this is done through the US Copyright Office, which is part of the Library of Congress. Not registering a copyright in no way minimizes or forfeits legal ownership of the work. Likewise, most publishers include a copyright statement, such as Copyright 2017, or the copyright symbol, such as ©2017, but omitting this does not affect legal ownership of the work, nor does a work lacking this statement mean the work is not copyrighted. If you are reading it, hearing it, or looking at it, the artistic work is most likely copyrighted (even if it is on the Internet).
Copyright is a legal issue, and copyright law can be very complex. When seeking advice and recommendations, consult a licensed attorney who specializes in copyright law. A licensed attorney is the only person who can provide legal advice.
Tin Whiskers Publisher is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). IBPA’s mission is “to lead and serve the independent publishing community by providing advocacy, education, and tools for success.” IBPA is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community. Founded in 1983, it is the largest publishing trade organization in the United States. IBPA members pledge to uphold the organization’s code of ethics.