Copyrighting Your Work

My cousin Nick wants to know:

My question is about copywriting my pictures. To my knowledge every picture I make or take is copywrited just because I did it. I was wondering if putting “all images copyright john doe 2008” on the bottom of every page of my website would cover me, or do I need to do something else?
And should I copyright them to my name or my website? (“copyright john doe 2008” or “copyright ABCompany.com 2008”)

Note: Don’t forget that I am not a lawyer (IANAL). These are merely my understandings and thoughts.

Under current United States laws, anything you make is automatically copyrighted. Additionally, you can submit your work to the United States Copyright Office for a fee, however I have never done this and don’t think it’s worthwhile.

To my knowledge, adding the “All images copyrighted by…” phrase does not offer any additional legal protection. If you were to add the phrase, I would use your name, since that’s the legal entity that owns the copyright.

I’d also like to take a second to mention something called Creative Commons. Almost all 10,000 of my photos and most of my blog is released under a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons allows you to retain the copyright, however it lets others use your work with specific requirements.

For example, most of my work is released under a By-Attribution, Share-Alike, Non-commercial license. This means that anyone is allowed to use my photos as long as it’s for non-commercial work (i.e. they can’t make money off of it), if they modify my work they must share it under a similar license, and they must attribute me.

I’d suggest you take a look at: http://creativecommons.org/

I hope that helps and let me know if you have any more questions.