When you take a picture, you own the rights to it unless you have made other arrangements via a contract. Since you own it, no one else is authorized to use the photo without your approval. You are also entitled to a royalty on subsequent usage, unless you waive that right.
A copyright signifies an original work. You own what you create, namely your photographs. You took them, they’re yours to own, distribute and sell. To receive the full rights of copyright protection, you will need to file the work with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress in
Washington, DC. The copyright protection lasts for the originator’s lifetime. A work is considered protected from the moment of creation.
The process begins by obtaining an application from the Copyrights Office. Once you complete and submit the application, you will then receive notification of copy right approval. From that point, you will have three months to supply two copies of the registered work, one for registration and the other for the Library of Congress.
The major forms are:
TX: covers non-dramatic literary works such as fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, reference works, directories, catalogues, advertising copy and computer programs PA: material to be performed, including music and lyrics, choreography, motion pictures and audio-visuals VA: visual arts including "pictorial, graphic or sculptural works, graphic arts, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, technical drawings, diagrams and models
SR: sound recordings
Formal copyright protection is a good idea for you as you create more and more works and get paid for it. It is the only way to ensure full protection under the law. For further reference, check:
Copyrights, Patents & Trademarks
Liberty Press, McGraw Hill