Understanding Rights and Copyright
Copyrighting your work is probably the easiest part of writing, because your work is automatically protected the moment you write it down. You do not have to “register” a copyright for it to be valid. However, if you’re still unsure, you can place a copyright notice on your material by putting the following information in the upper right corner of your document:
Copyright © 2015 by Joannes Rhino
Drawing a circle by hand is acceptable, but substituting parentheses for the circle is not. If you can’t reproduce the circle, don’t worry; the word “copyright” alone is sufficient. Such a notice is wise if you’re handing out your work to friends and relatives or, perhaps, to a writer’s group. Be aware, however, that some editors consider it a sign of amateurism (they already know your work is copyrighted).
For further protection, you can register unpublished works with the Copyright Office for a $45 fee. This ensures protection if you are involved in a copyright infringement suit. Such violations, however, are rare; you don’t need to register just because you’re sharing a story with a writer’s group or submitting it for publication. However, you do have to register your copyright to be able to claim statutory damages in the event that you need to sue someone for copyright infringement. (If your work is not registered, you can claim “actual” damages, but not statutory damages.) In addition, the work must have been registered prior to such a suit.
For more information, check http://www.writing-world.com/rights/copyright.shtml