zork - 7:22 pm on Apr 10, 2013 (gmt 0)
Copyright does NOT have to be registered. It is protected from the day it was created but you may need to prove that you did create it and when. Registering it with any authority or notary is one way but it's not the only method. For example if the Wayback Machine features your web site and it has a record of the web page in question you should be covered. Or if every now and then you published your web site to PDF and sent a copy to your solicitor or other notary you will be covered.
@Kendo, you should take a look at the official statement from the Copyright Office:
"You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work." -- [copyright.gov...]
And you're only kinda right about the date issue:
"However, the Copyright Office must have acted on your application
before you can file a suit for copyright infringement, and certain remedies,
such as statutory damages and attorney’s fees, are available only for acts of
infringement that occurred after the effective date of registration. If a
published work was infringed before the effective date of registration,
those remedies may be available if the effective date of registration is no
later than three months after the first publication of the work."
[copyright.gov...] page 1 When Is My Registration Effective?
What is more is that, if you *do* meet these requirements, you'll have to prove damages and the Plaintiff's willingness to infringe on your copyright, so if you're dealing with a webmaster who runs a crowdsourced site (such as Pinterest) which meets the necessary DMCA requirements, you're only recourse is to file a DMCA notice with the site through the proper channels. Then, only if they fail to remove your content within a reasonable amount of time do you actually have a case (and even then it's debatable).