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Copyright Notice basics

After you have created something original and you're ready to share it with the world, you can use a Copyright Notice to protect your rights. A Copyright Notice can be placed on your creation, whether it is a written piece, a visual work, or an audio recording. By including the Copyright Notice on the work, you are notifying others that you are claiming copyright protection over the work that you have created.

When can I use a Copyright Notice?

You may place a Copyright Notice on original works you have created. Doing so puts others on notice that you are claiming copyright protection over the work. Let Rocket Lawyer guide you through the process of creating your own custom Copyright Notice. You can use the Copyright Notice if:

  • You want to provide notice to others that you claim copyright protection in your work.
  • You want to provide contact information so that potential licensees are able to properly identify the owner of the work.
  • You want to prevent accused copiers from arguing that their acts of copying were innocent mistakes.
  • You want to claim for yourself the full range of benefits afforded under copyright law.

How do you write a Copyright Notice?

Writing a Copyright Notice is very straightforward. Use the Rocket Lawyer document builder to create your own custom Copyright Notice. Once you click on the Make Document button, you can select your state and answer a short series of questions. Information you'll want to gather before you start includes:

  • The owner of the work, whether an individual or company
  • The name of the work
  • The original publication date
  • If the work is a sound recording (excluding audiovisual, as those are treated separately)
  • Any relevant trademark information
  • Whether the work contains anything that was originally created by the U.S. Government
  • Whether the work includes earlier copyrighted material

Is a Copyright Notice required?

A Copyright Notice isn't required for works published on or after March 1, 1989. However, by using a Copyright Notice you are making it clear that you are the owner of an original piece of work and that you are claiming copyright protection over that work. This puts others on notice that copying your work and using it for their own benefit would be in violation of the Copyright Act.

Under U.S. law, the moment you create an original work and fix it in a tangible medium, you own the copyright. Tangible mediums can include:

  • Pencil
  • Paint
  • Cloth
  • Stone
  • Paper
  • Film
  • Digital recordings, and more

In addition to using a Copyright Notice, you may wish to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office so that you will have added protection should any issues arise. You can easily create a free account, upload the work, and pay a small fee which varies based on the type of work you are submitting and whether it is a single work or collection of works.

What is an example of a copyright?

For an example of a Copyright Notice, click on the View Sample link for the Copyright Notice that appears on this page. From that view, you can choose your state and begin the process of making your own custom Copyright Notice.

Can I put a copyright symbol on my work?

Yes, you can use the copyright symbol © as part of your Copyright Notice on any original piece that you have created. The copyright symbol, in addition to the year of the copyright and the name of the owner, used to be required by law in order to enjoy full copyright protection. However, that requirement has been removed from the Copyright Act. Any works published on or after March 1, 1989 are not required to have a Copyright Notice. Original works are now considered protected as soon as they have been created.

Some creators still choose to use a Copyright Notice on their works to put others on notice that the works are protected and may not be copied without the creator's explicit permission. Using the copyright symbol is a written claim of ownership. For additional protection, some creators also register their copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.

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Sample Copyright Notice

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