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.

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.


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.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now


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.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
Copyright Registration Advantages & Disadvantages


Related articles

How to Word a Copyright Notice for a Screenplay

A screenplay is the written script of a film and it is automatically protected by copyright from the moment you write it down. You are no longer required to place a copyright notice on your work to gain this protection; nevertheless, a properly formatted copyright notice on your screenplay identifies you as the creator of the work and notifies the public that you are actively protecting your work. If anyone tries to publish your screenplay without your permission or claims it as his own, a copyright notice will make it difficult for that person to argue in court that your copyright was infringed unintentionally.

Consequences for Breaking Copyright Laws

A copyright protects the creator of a literary or artistic work from theft of the material by someone else. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material, or its distribution to the public without the creator’s permission. There are a wide variety of penalties associated with copyright infringement, which is a violation of federal law.

Are Company Slogans Copyrighted?

Federal copyright law grants exclusive rights to the use of “original works of authorship,” whether or not they are published. Copyright law protects a broad range of works, including books, poems, songs, paintings and even computer programs. However, copyright law normally does not protect short phrases, such as a company slogan. Trademark law, on the other hand, specifically protects slogans that companies use to identify themselves as the maker of a product.

Related articles

How Do I Apply for Copyrights in Nevada?

Federal copyright law applies to all 50 states, and the process of registering a copyright is the same for Nevada ...

Pros & Cons of Copyright Laws

A copyright is a legal monopoly, granted by the federal government, that allows the creator of an original work of ...

Examples of How to Correctly Use the Copyright Symbol

The familiar copyright symbol -- a "c" in a circle or © -- is one part of a copyright notice placed on written works to ...

Why Should I Copyright My Thesis?

Copyright protection of your thesis exists once you've written it -- you don't necessarily need to do anything more. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED