Some jurisdictions have required formalities to establishing copyright, but most recognize copyright in any completed work, without formal registration. Generally, copyright is enforced as a civil matter, though some jurisdictions do apply criminal sanctions.

"Poor man's copyright"

Because of the cost associated with copyright registration some creators, particularly musicians, have attempted to establish evidence of ownership and creation of a work by mailing it to themselves. In the US this non-statutory practice became known as "poor man's copyright."[15] Today the US Copyright Office makes it clear that the technique is no substitute for actual copyright registration,[16] although the practice may be accepted as proof of creation in a number of national jurisdictions, such as the UK and the Netherlands. "Poor man's copyright" may also include depositing a copy of the work with a bank or attorney.[17][18]