U.S. law no longer requires the use of a copyright notice. However, owners of older works published before January 1, 1978 are still manditorially required to use a copyright notice because they are still governed by the prior law that did contain that requirement.
Under that law, if a work was published under the copyright owner’s authority without a proper notice of copyright, all copyright protection for that work was permanently lost in the United States.
The Benefits of a Copyright Notice
Although a copyright notice is not required, it is certainly beneficial. A copyright notice informs the public that a work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication.
More importantly, in the event that a work is infringed, if a copyright notice was used, the court will not give any weight to a defendant’s claim that they did not realize that the work was protected (referred to as an innocent infringement defense).
How to Create a Copyright Notice
In general, in order to be valid, a copyright notice should contain:
- The symbol © (letter C in a circle); the word “Copyright”; or the abbreviation “Copr.”
- The date of publication, and
- The name of either the author or the owner of all the copyright rights in the published work.
Example: © 2011 Jane Doe
How I Can Help
Of course, this post provides only a broad overview of copyright notices. If you are seeking to copyright a work, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman. Connect with me on Google +.
– Ex astris, scientia –