Your questions are most likely best answered by a qualified
intellectual property attorney.
I am a designer and metalsmith and not a lawyer, and can speak to a
couple of your questions only from my own personal experience.
Generally, in order to go after an infringer in federal district
court, I have had to register a copyright with the Copyright office
of the Library of Congress in Washington DC. My work does not have to
be published in order for me to register it, but I have been advised
that registering within three months after publication provides
Proof of publication has been very helpful to me, and I have been
advised that if the work is registered within three months after
first publication it may afford enhanced protection under the law.
Copyright registration won’t stop others from infringing (copying a
work without permission), but it does potentially provide tools to
make their life a living hell if they do.
Having registered copyrights has enabled me to seize infringing
copies(at times by the suitcase full), have the infringing copies
destroyed (many of these originated overseas), to file lawsuits for
copyright infringement, to obtain jail sentences for contempt of court
by infringers, to obtain judgements for money damages, and to obtain
money settlements in conjunction with copyright claims.
The last time I sent in a registration, it ran $30.00. I do them
myself now, but recommend that you have a qualified attorney assist
you with this process until you thoroughly understand the ins and
outs of registration.
The 10% rule - basically, an urban legend that if one takes a
copyrighted work and changes it a little - is absolute nonsense. Lots
of lawyers have gotten rich from people who think they can do this.
To the best of my knowledge, Disney vigilantly protects its
intellectual property. I would imagine that if you were to research
this you would find that Disney has successfully sued infringers many
times, and is most likely doing so on several fronts at this very
I hope this has been helpful to you.
With best regards,
M. M. Rogers Design