“Copyright 2023 John Smith” – you may have seen something like this on the bottom of a website, at the front of a book, or elsewhere. But, what does it mean and why is it there?
A copyright notice consists of three elements, generally appearing together. Those elements are: (1) The word “copyright,” its abbreviation “copr.” or the copyright symbol – © (or ℗ for phonorecords); (2) the year the work was first published (or “unpublished work”); and (3) the name of the copyright owner.
For works first published on or after March 1, 1989, notice is no longer a requirement for copyright protection. That said, there are a number of advantages to placing a copyright notice on a work. Those advantages include:
- Placing a copyright notice on a work is a good way to inform viewers that the owner claims ownership of the work’s copyright.
- Placing a copyright notice could prevent a defendant in a copyright lawsuit from successfully arguing that he or she was not aware of copyright and that lesser penalties should be given out by a court.
- Placing a copyright notice informs people who see the notice who the owner is, so that they can seek permission to use the work
You can read more about Copyright Notice in the United States Copyright Office’s Circular #3.
In addition to placing copyright notice on a work, copyright owners should also file an application for copyright with the United States Copyright Office. While registering copyright is not a prerequisite for protection, registering a copyright claim can provide substantial additional legal benefits.