I’ve heard a variety of speakers over the course of the last year or so talking about how to publish work either on the web or in a print format. Generally, at some point in their presentations they bring up the issue of how to copyright one’s work so that it can’t be stolen and used to make money for some troll.

And generally, the folks making the presentations are not quite correct when they talk about how to copyright a work. Usually they say the author or creator has to use the little copyright symbol on the title page and the words “Copyright 2018 Carroll Wilson,” for example, and then send a copy of the product to the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington. Or, they might suggest that the author instead use the copyright symbol, etc., and then package up the work and send it to himself or herself via registered mail to establish date of creation.

And specifically, this is not correct advice. The copyright law changed in 1997, and it no longer requires the creator of a work to use a symbol or to send the material to a government office to own the copyright outright. Once a work is created it is automatically copyrighted, and the author holds that right for his or her life plus 70 years. That’s it.

But, if you seriously think a troll will get your work and make money from it, then go ahead and do the symbol and send the package to the copyright office along with a copy of the work. And then be prepared to hire a lawyer to go to court to prove you have the copyright in the first place.