What Is a Copyright Statement?

By David Carnes

A copyright statement, normally referred to in the United States as a copyright notice, is a short statement affixed to a published work of authorship such as a book or a music CD. Its function is to notify the public that the work is copyrighted and to provide information about the copyright holder. A copyright notice should be conspicuously displayed on the work and properly formatted.

A copyright statement, normally referred to in the United States as a copyright notice, is a short statement affixed to a published work of authorship such as a book or a music CD. Its function is to notify the public that the work is copyrighted and to provide information about the copyright holder. A copyright notice should be conspicuously displayed on the work and properly formatted.

Legal Significance

Published works created in the United States before March 1, 1989 require a copyright notice to qualify for copyright protection under U.S. law. After the United States joined the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works by signing an international treaty, Congress amended the Copyright Act to drop the requirement of a copyright notice on works first published on March 1, 1989 or later.

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Format

A standard copyright notice will begin with the copyright symbol -- the letter "c" in a circle -- the word "copyright," or the abbreviation "copr." This is followed by the name of the copyright owner and the year in which the work was first published. A copyright notice can help you track down the copyright owner to request permission to use the work. However, you have to be aware that copyright holder might have sold his copyright to someone else after the copyright notice was affixed to the work.

Advantages

Even though the use of a copyright notice is no longer a legal requirement for copyright protection in the United States, its use confers significant advantages. A copyright notice can help deter infringement because it indicates that the copyright owner is serious about enforcing his rights. In a copyright infringement lawsuit, the fact that a copyright notice was affixed to the infringed work will prevent the infringing party from claiming "innocent infringement." Innocent infringement means unintentional infringement; it is used by defendants to decrease the amount of damages awarded by the court.

International Protection

In addition to the Berne Convention, the United States is a member of the Universal Copyright Convention. This allows authors who create a work in the United States to enjoy copyright protection under the laws of any country that is a member of either convention. Most of the countries in the world are members of at least one of these two conventions. Unlike the Berne Convention treaty, however, the Universal Copyright Convention treaty offers international copyright protection only to published works that include a copyright notice. This means that works published in the United States without a copyright notice are not protected in countries that joined the Universal Copyright Convention but not the Berne Convention.

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Copyright Laws for Authors and Artists

References

Related articles

How Do Copyrights Work?

A copyright is an intangible property right that an artist or creator gains in an original work. The copyright represents the law's recognition that the creator should be the one to initially profit from the sale, display, performance or duplication of the work for a standard period of time as a way to encourage creators to continue creating. There is an aspect of copyright law that operates automatically to protect the creator of an original work and other protections that are available under the provisions of the federal Copyright Act.

Copyright Issues With Playing Published Music in Public

The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 creates a monopoly for authors of original musical works. This means that only the copyright holder is allowed to profit from her creation. Included in this monopoly is the right to perform the work in public. As long as you hold the copyright, you can sing your songs as often as you like, in front of as many people as you want. On the other hand, if someone else performs your work in public without permission or paying a royalty, he may have infringed your copyright.

Can You Use Writings That Are Not Copyrighted?

Writings automatically become copyrighted the minute they are created and fixed in tangible form, such as a writing on paper or in an electronic file. The copyright is valid, even if the writing is not published, registered with the federal government or marked with the copyright symbol. Before using someone else's written work, you need to know whether it is protected by copyright.

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