http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/fa...al.html#myworkWhen is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”
Seems like if there is an issue especially soon after the creation of the work you can just register it and then pursue legal action. Why wouldn't you be able to just do that? What am I missing. I also found this...
It goes on to define the "for hire" arrangement.Who Can Claim Copyright?
Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is cre
ated in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship
immediately becomes the property of the author who cre
ated the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights
through the author can rightfully claim copyright.
In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not
the employee is considered to be the author.