A question often posed to me by songwriters is when to copyright their songs. Under United States law, a work is protected by copyright if meets sufficient standards of originality and is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” (17 U.S. Code § 102) If these requirements are met, then the work is technically protected under copyright law.
However, without federal copyright registration, the work will not receive the additional benefits of registration, such as the ability to sue for copyright infringement. Therefore, I always recommend that clients register their works with the Copyright Office.
Depending on the situation, though, the timing of when to actually register a work might vary. Here are a few guidelines to help you out.