Q: Do you have to register a copyright to take advantage of copyright law?
No, you don't have to register a copyright to take advantage of copyright law. For example, you can sell or license a copyrighted work even if you have not registered. However, if you have made an investment in your work, it is a good idea to register it with the Copyright Office. If you register your work early, then if it is ever infringed, you have preserved the right to recovery attorneys fees and "statutory damages" in any future lawsuit.
As Mr. Overhauser said, you don't have to register to "take advantage of copyright law."
But if someone infringes your work, you DO have to have it registered before you can sue them for infringement.
Registration is a necessary pre-requisite to filing a law suit but as far as selling, distributing, etc. the rights are yours to take advantage of in whatever clever way you can think of.
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