Understanding Notice of Copyright

Understanding Notice of Copyright

Copyright law used to require that you placed a notice of copyright on your protected works in order to reap the benefits of copyright protection. You no longer have to do that, but using a copyright notice has become common practice. The notice is often written as the symbol: ©. That symbol means, this is copyrighted material. The notice that was required on all works published prior to March 1, 1989, and which is advisable to use now, contains the following three parts: 

  • Copyright symbol, word, or abbreviation. The symbol ©, the word "copyright," or the abbreviation "copr." To protect international rights, it was necessary to use the symbol © rather than the word. For phonorecords, the symbol is used instead.

Note: The word "phonorecord" is defined in the Copyright Act as any material object that records sounds (other than a motion picture or audiovisual work). This includes records, tapes, compact discs, and any method that might be invented in the future to record sounds on a physical object.

  • Year of first publication. Where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work is reproduced on postcards, greeting cards, stationery, jewelry, toys, or other useful articles, the year may be omitted.
  • Name of the copyright owner. Or, a recognizable abbreviation of the owner's name. 

A correct notice would be as follows: “© 2015 John Doe” or “Copyright 2015 John Doe.”

The notice should be affixed to the copies in such a way as to give reasonable notice of the claim of copyright. That means that in motion pictures or other audiovisual works, the notice should be with or near the title, cast, credits, or similar information, or at the beginning or end of the work. For works on which it is impractical to affix a notice, it is acceptable to use a tag attached to the goods that will stay with them while they pass through commerce.