A notice of copyright notifies the public that a certain work is protected by copyright law. The accepted forms for copyright notices differ between visually perceptible works (ex: books, maps, photographs, sculpture) and aurally perceptible works (ex: musical recordings).

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  • For visual works, use the © symbol, the word “Copyright”, or the abbreviation “Copr.”, followed by the year of first publication, followed by the copyright owner’s name. For example, © 2011 Ann Smith.  
  • For audio works, use the symbol of the letter P in a circle (P standing for “phonograph”) followed by the date of publication and the copyright holder’s name. Note that this does not serve as a copyright notice for the musical, literary or dramatic work underlying the recording. 

As of 1989, U.S. law no longer requires use of copyright notice to protect your work, though using notices can be beneficial. Works older than 1989 may find that copyright notices are still relevant to their legal status, though the Copyright Office itself does not take a position on whether copies of works first published with notice before March 1, 1989 must carry their copyright notice if distributed after March 1, 1989. Also, the Uruguay Round Agreements Act restores copyright in certain foreign works originally published without notice.

Even though you aren’t required to issue a notice of copyright with your work, you may that a copyright notice is an advantage because it:

  • informs the public that the work is protected by copyright 
  • identifies you as the copyright owner 
  • shows the year of first publication 
  • solidifies your case in an infringement suit. If you place a copyright notice on a published copy, and the defendant later uses that copy to violate your copyright, the defendant can’t claim s/he didn’t know the work was protected. 

You do not need advance permission from the Copyright Office to use a copyright notice. Whether or not, or even how, you use it is up to your discretion.

Get Started Start your Copyright Notice Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get Started Start your Copyright Notice Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.