As soon as you write, draw, or otherwise create an original work, it is automatically given copyright protection in most countries. Publication of the material accompanied by the copyright symbol is good for alerting others that the work is copyrighted, but offers no legal protection. If you later discover that someone has used your work without permission, you have to register it with the U-S Copyright Office before you can take legal action. If your claim eventually winds up in court, it could be difficult to prove when you created the work unless your registration took place before the case was filed. Registration consists of filling out a form and paying a fee. You must also include a copy of your work on paper, film, or electronic medium. Your copyright is in effect from the moment the Office receives the proper materials, no matter how long it takes to process the information and send you the official certificate.