A person commits an act of theft if someone unlawfully obtains or utilizes another's property or resources with the intent to deprive the rightful owner.
In the case of web site theft, the taking of copyrighted materials, altering those materials to look like one's own work, and the placing of those materials onto the internet for commerce, thus competing with the original author, is theft. It is also a copyright violation, but it is still theft and it can and should be prosecuted as such.
The U.S. Library of Congress manages the U.S. Copyright Office. The U.S. Copyright Office considers internet web pages to be software programs, reasonable since they are "programmed". To have a copyright simply requires that the work contain a valid copyright notice as follows: © year, author name.
Registration is not mandatory, but time has proven this to be a reasonable step. To register you should refer to the filing procedures required by the U.S. Copyright Office. Our site registration required a print of all web pages, a print of all web page HTML codes, a form completed, and a check for under $40.00.
On an international level, the U.S. Government became a member of the Berne Convention in 1989 and fully supports the Universal Copyright Convention. Under this Convention any work of an author who is a national of a Convention country automatically receives protection in ALL countries that are also members under this Convention provided the work makes use of a proper copyright symbol. The degree of protection may vary, but some minimal protection is defined and guaranteed in that agreement. Specific filing of a registration is not required, although it helps if you seek to prosecute offenders. Simply having the copyright notice on the work makes the copyright valid.
In dealing with copyrights, you receive protection under the auspices of the US Government. Jurisdiction for prosecuting violations is exclusively with the federal government.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that it is trademark infringement to use a competitors trademark in a web page META tag. The court noted that such terms could be used without violating trademarks if used as root words expressed as lower case.