What Is the Correct Form for a Copyright Notice?

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You are no longer required to place a copyright notice on works for which you want copyright protection as a result of changes to copyright law in 1989. You can still place a copyright notice on your work, however, and can follow the formats that were used when such notification was mandatory.


A copyright is legal protection for a creative work, such as a poem, sculpture, photograph or musical composition. As copyright holder, only you can legally make copies of the work or use it for commercial purposes. Others wishing to use it must get your permission.

At one time, an author of a creative work had to register with the U.S. Copyright Office and place a copyright notice on her work in order to receive copyright protection. These steps are no longer required. Copyright is automatic as soon as a work is put in tangible form, such as printed on paper, painted on canvas or saved to a computer file.

Copyright Notice

The formerly required copyright notice included a statement of copyright, the name of the author of the work and the date of original copyright. Authors who choose to include a copyright notice on current works often use the same items of information.

Read More: How to Word a Copyright Notice for a Screenplay

Notice Formats

A copyright notice generally begins with the word copyright, the abbreviation copr. or the copyright symbol, which is the letter C in a circle. This is followed by the year of copyright and the name of the author. For example, "Copyright 2012 John Doe" is a common format for a copyright notice.


About the Author

David Sarokin is a well-known specialist on Internet research. He has been profiled in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post" and in numerous online publications. Based in Washington D.C., he splits his time between several research services, writing content and his work as an environmental specialist with the federal government. David is the author of Missed Information (MIT Press, 2016), a book exploring how better information can lead to a more sustainable future.

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