In general, filing for copyright protection is not necessarily difficult, but there are a few considerations that might make the process easier. The way in which a person files for copyright registration can greatly impact the length of time it takes to process the request as well as how much the registration costs. It also is important to be aware of how different countries process copyright registration, and that officially filing for copyright protection is not necessary, though it is often recommended.
One of the first things a person interested in filing for copyright protection should know is that in most countries that recognize copyright laws, no filing is necessary. In countries such as the US and UK, a work of art or other creation is protected by copyright laws and considered the legal copyright of the creator as soon as it is made. This means that when a person writes down a poem on paper, that poem is the legal copyright of that person the moment he or she does so, without officially filing for copyright with any government agency.
Filing for copyright protection, however, does have some advantages that should be considered and can make legal copyright protection easier if it is ever necessary. While creating a work does establish a copyright on that work, it does not often legally establish when that work was created. By filing for copyright protection, a person is able to indicate when a copyright was legally recognized. The easiest way to do this is to simply register a copyright with a government or private agency that deals with copyright protection in a country.
In the US, for example, filing for copyright protection is handled by the US Copyright Office. Filing can be done through the Internet or by sending in a paper registration form. Submitting an Internet application is often preferable since the process is faster, can be tracked online, and is less expensive. Regardless of what method is used, however, the copyright is legally recognized from the moment the application is officially received, regardless of how long it takes for the Copyright Office to process the paperwork.
Other countries may not have a government agency devoted to copyright registration; oftentimes, private organizations and other third-party companies handle these services. The methods used when filing for copyright protection in such countries is similar to the US, but is simply handled by a private organization. A fee typically must be paid to register a copyright, though it can be fairly small, and a copy of the work is typically required as well, which is retained on file by the copyright office and is not returned.