traderfjp wrote: I never heard of anyone registering photos with a patent office but I'm not a lawyer so
You don't, patent and copyrights are two separate things. Patents are for mechanical devices. Copyrights covers intellectual work, art, video, images, text etc.
I was under the assumption that all intellectual property was copyrighted the moment it's created and legal action could be pursued if there was an infringement on the author's work.
It is but there are few exceptions, if for example you are doing a work for hire but even that gets tricky. If someone contracts me to make a website and it isn't specifically spelled out in the contract that they own the copyright to what I create I still own the copyright. Other exceptions include if you film for example a school play which can really get complicated because at least two and possibly three copyrights are involved, you have the rights to the footage itself, the school owns the copyrights to that particular performance and if whatever they performed such as play was copyrighted the authors of the play have rights too. Without and agreement of all three parties none of you can sell the video.
On a side note when you post information here that too is copyrighted by you, I'm not talking about the brief snippets of text but if you create a lengthy post or upload original images you the poster retain copyright to that material. However by hitting the submit you are giving permission for me the site owner to display your work. This is indefinite but I couldn't for example take all the good stuff and place it in a book for sale either. It would have to remain within the context of a post.
I can't imagine that any company registers all their work with a patent office.
They don't, prime examples would be newspapers. It would cost a fortune and the copyright office would never be able to keep up.