To prevent unauthorized use or copying of your works, you should always include a copyright notice on all documents, websites and other creative works.
Although the use of a copyright notice is not required under U.S. law for works published after March 1, 1989, it’s a good way to potentially deter would-be infringers.
You do not need to have filed a copyright application or obtained a copyright registration to use the ©, as copyright protection subsists from the time the work is fixed in any tangible medium of expression (e.g., written down, recorded, etc.)…although there are several benefits to registration.
Use of a copyright notice informs the public 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 alleged infringer will not be able to rely on a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages.
A copyright notice should contain the following:
- The symbol © (the letter C in a circle) or the word “Copyright”;
- The year of first publication of the work. In the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient; and
- The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.
© 2015 Danica L. Mathes. All rights reserved.
© 2015 Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP