Your electronic thesis, dissertation, or report (ETDR) is an original work and is protected by copyright laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code). These laws give the copyright owner exclusive rights to (or authorize others to) reproduce, distribute, produce derivative works, display, or perform the work.
You are not required to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to be protected by U.S. copyright law. However, registration is required before you can file an infringement lawsuit. Depending on the topic of your ETDR, you may want to consider registering your work. Registration gives you additional legal rights, particularly the ability to receive "statutory damages" and attorney fees in an infringement action. In general, you must register before the infringement occurs to have these benefits. You may want to discuss copyright registration with your major professor before deciding whether to register.
You have two options for registering copyright. One is to register directly with the U.S. Copyright Office. Cost is $35, and you can register online. Details for registering are available on the U.S Electronic Copyright Office site.
The other option (for dissertations only) is to request registration through UMI/ProQuest. You can do this as part of the online submission process required for all K-State dissertations. During the submission process, you will be asked if you want to register for copyright. If you respond "Yes," UMI will register on your behalf. Cost is $55, which will be added to your graduation fees. You do not need to provide a paper copy.