How To Give Notice of Copyright On Your Works

by Richard Chapo, Esq., Staff Writer

The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, but you should still give notice whenever possible. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works.

Under the 1976 Copyright Act, creators of covered works were required to give notice of copyright on the work in question. This requirement was eliminated when the United States signed onto the Berne Convention in March 1989.

You should give notice of copyright whenever possible because it puts the public on notice that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then the defendant can’t claim innocent infringement as a defense. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected.

The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with, the Copyright Office.

Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies

The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:

1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright”;

2. The year of first publication of the work. The year date may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and

3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized.

Here’s an example: © 2002 Jane Doe

Position of Notice

The copyright notice should be affixed to copies in such a way as to “give reasonable notice of the claim of copyright.” The three elements of the notice should ordinarily appear together on the copies or container.

In Closing

You work hard to create books, articles, music and other items. Make sure you protect them by giving copyright notice.

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