A copyright is automatically secured when a work is created. The term created refers to when the work exits in a physical form, is fixed in a copy or phonorecord. Copyright registration intends to make a particular copyright public record. No publication or registration in the Copyright Office is required to obtain a copyright, though there are advantages of registering a copyright.
Copyright registration allows the owner to make a public record of their copyright. While copyright registration is not required, copyright law provides certain advantages to persuade owners to register their copyrights. For instance, registration of a copyright establishes a public record. Additionally, before an infringement lawsuit can be filed, registration is required. Registration also allows the copyright owner the opportunity to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect against the importation of infringing copies.
A copyright can be registered at any time. Unlike the copyright law before 1978, when a work is registered in an unpublished form, the owner does not have to make another registration when the work is published, though he or she can register the published edition, if desired.