Thanks for the feedback. My main point was that rights attach at the creation of a work, automatically. Not when the work is published or registered. The first two of those rights are the right to copy and the right to distribute. These are powerful rights and magically appear, at least that's the way I see it. Poof! You're a publishing company.
And it is true that you have to register to file a copyright infringement action. (Section 411(a)). The DMCA exempted works first published outside the US to conform US law to the Berne Convention, but otherwise, you have to register to sue.
There are other advantages to registration as well, and you lose advantages if you don't register, like the right to collect statutory damages if you don't register in a timely manner (I think it’s within 6 months of publication). That's important because usually that's all the damages you're likely to get. The infringing party may not have made any money, or very little. (Statutory damages are what the RIAA is suing you for when they whack your grandma because you went to Pirate Bay last time you went to see her.)
If you don't register within 5 years of publication, you lose the presumption that you are the author, should there be an infringement action. This is important because with the presumption, the other party has to prove that you're not the author and that they are. Without the presumption they just have to prove that they are the author. Easier. And mailing it to your self won't get that done, in my opinion.
Suffice it to say, the law is designed to give procedural inducements to early registration. However, this does not alter the fact that you can register up to the day you commence an infringement action, but you must register the work first or the action will be subject to dismissal.
I think we can add a little more meat to the sandwich next time, don't you? We'll pick up the pace. I can see that we're running with a fast crowd here.
For more information on copyright law, take a look at this video on Artist House Music.
Thanks, John Snyder
PS All this talk of infringement makes me nervous. The curse of the artist is anonymity not piracy. Who said that first, John Perry Barlow?