The Copyright Symbol
One of the more frequent questions that comes up among photographers getting used to the world of digital isn't really a photography question at all. Rather, it deals with how to create that darned circle-with-a-C-in-it symbol used to designate copyright.
Your keyboard likely doesn't have a © symbol on it, or at least mine doesn't and neither has any that I've ever come across. But once you know the trick, creating one isn't difficult. The method differs whether you are using Windows or a Mac.
On Windows, hold down the Alt key and type the four-digit number 0169, then release the Alt key. The Alt key has to stay depressed for the entire sequence before releasing it but don't hold down any of the number keys, just type them as you normally would, one digit at a time starting with the zero. While typing 0169 you won't see anything change on your screen, but once you release the Alt key you should get the copyright symbol at your current cursor position. Note that to make things just a bit more complicated you must type the numbers using the numeric keypad on your keyboard — the standard row of numbers across the top of the keyboard won't work. And make sure you have the Numlock (numeric lock) on too or else your numeric keypad will probably function as cursor scroll keys instead. If you are on a laptop (as I am when I am typing this now), you should have some special function key (mine is labled "Fn" in pale blue type) that turns a part of your regular keyboard temporarily into a numeric keypad. So on my laptop I have to hold down Alt-Fn, then type 0169 (which is really the "m," "j," "o," and "9" keys) and let go of all the keys to get the © symbol. It sounds harder than it actually is. Just try it on your own keyboard and you'll soon figure it out.
If you don't want to bother remembering the magic number 0169, there is another method. Click on your start menu, then "Run...," type "charmap" and hit the Enter key. This will start the Character Map application that is built into Windows. From here you can browse through all regular and special characters and pick what you want. Character Map lets you copy characters to your clipboard so you can then paste the result in your target application. You can also see the keystroke representation for any given special character when you select it in the Character Map application. That's one way to look up the code for the copyright symbol in case you forget it later. Or you can just come back here of course. If you type it often enough though, you'll soon memorize Alt-0169.
Apple makes things a bit easier for you OS X users out there. To type thye copyright symbol just hold down the Option key and press the "g" key. They made it "g" and not "c" since the latter got used to create the French cedilla accented "c" as in façade.
Don't use either of these when building a web page though. Since some people browsing your web site will be using Windows and some Mac OS, you need a method that will render correctly for everybody. Fortunately, HTML standards provide for special codes to represent characters such as the copyright symbol. Each starts with an ampersand "&" character and ends with a semicolon. To get the © copyright symbol, the HTML character code is "©".
In the United States and in many countries, an image is technically copyrighted the moment you press the shutter release but it can be a good idea to put a copyright notice on or with your images to clear up any possible confusion. Many people mistakenly believe that images on the World Wide Web are in the public domain. They're not. Registering your copyright with the Copyright Office in the US Library of Congress is also important. More on that next week.
The Windows Character Map
The OS X Character Palette
Update 06/15/2008 - Last week I neglected to mention the OS X Character Palette, an applet that is similar to Window's Character Map. If you click on the icon for your International menu up on the main OS X menu bar next to your volume control, you should have an option for "Show Character Palette." Opening it will provide you with a list of all the special characters that are hard to type without help including, of course, the copyright symbol. Double-clicking on any of the characters will insert at the cursor position in your current application. Unfortunately, the Character Palette doesn't show you the keyboard shortcut for the character you select so you can't use it if you forget the Option-g keystroke sequence. If you don't see "Show Character Palette" on your International menu, go to your International settings in your System Preferences. Then click on "Input Menu" on the list of tabs and check the option to show the Character Palette.