The first step you have to take is registering your copyright with the US copyright Office which allows you to sue for any infringement against your copyright rights and enforce it. You can register by filing a simple form and providing one or two samples of your work, depending on what it is. Registering costs $45 per work but if do a group registration (several works that are part of the same series) you will save some money.
There is no time frame within which to register but it is highly recommended that one register within three months of the work’s publication or before the beginning of any copyright infringement. Registering early creates the presumption that your copyright is valid which will permit you to recover up to $150, 000.00 for willful infringement without having to prove that the infringement caused you any financial damage.
Since 1989 it is not compulsory to attach a copyright notice to your work. Nevertheless, if you attach a copyright, the possible infringer will not be able to claim in court that they didn’t know the work was copyrighted. Also the presence of a copyright notice might discourage infringement or make it easier for other artists to track the author and ask a for legitimate permission to use the work. A legal copyright notice must include: the word copyright, a ©, the name of the author or the owner of the copyright rights and the date of publication (may be sometimes omitted).
In the situation of an infringement of copyright, the owner of the rights will be able to file a lawsuit in federal court to demand: money damages, the issuance of orders to prevent other infringement, or attorney fees. The success of the lawsuit will depend on whether the infringers can raise one or several legal defenses to prove that the infringement was innocent and that the infringers had reasons to believe that the use of the work was fair.
Does copyright work the same way worldwide? Copyright rules are similar worldwide thanks to several international copyright treaties such as the Berne Convention. Under the Convention, all the country members (more than a hundred), as well as virtually all industrialized countries, must provide copyright protection to their authors. In addition to the Berne Convention, the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) also signed by many countries worldwide contains provisions that affect copyright protection. Those two conventions allow U.S. authors to enforce copyright around the world and also allow authors from signing countries to enforce their copyrights rights in the U.S.