The first lesson you need to learn is when does copyright arise? The answer, quite simply, is automatically. As long as your work is an original piece and has a level of skill or labour involved, you are protected from the moment your work is created. Copyright also lasts for a long period of time; for literary and artistic works, it can last for 70 years after the author or creator has died, and for musical pieces, copyright lasts for 50 years. In 2015, music artist Robin Thicke found himself in a copyright issue over his single 'Blurred Lines'. A jury found that Thicke had copied the music from Marvin Gaye's 1977 release 'Got to Give It Up' and was ordered to pay $7.4m.
Copyright applies to many different creative pieces, however it cannot apply to names and titles. Part of this is down to common sense - if a piece of work is called 'Red' or 'Sun' for example, then nobody else could use those words in other documents, but we use these words all the time, so it would not be practical. Typically, when people look to copyright a name, they are looking to protect a trading name i.e. of a business so nobody else can use that name for a similar company.
So what can you do to ensure that nobody copies your work. For authors, it is important to have a copyright notice at the beginning of the book with the copyright symbol (©) accompanied by your name, the year the book was written or published, and the word 'copyright'. It may also be helpful to include a phrase along the lines of 'all rights reserved'. Artists can also have a watermark on their work to identify themselves as the creator and musicians need to include the phonogram symbol (℗). There are more defences that you can use, so do a little bit of research around this.
There are some cases where copyright is not infringed, such as use for private study or research, lending for educational use and news reporting. You should also be aware that not everything on the Internet is in the public domain. Just because it came up on Google, doesn't mean there is no copyright protection, so always be careful.
The main lesson to learn from this is although copyright is an automatic right, it is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you have the correct copyright symbol visible and an appropriate statement, and if you are in any doubt about whether you could be in breach of copyright, ask the owner.