When an author creates a work, he or she has a
copyright on that work. This means that the author is given exclusive rights to
use, recreate, distribute, sell, license and transfer the work. Works eligible
for copyright include motion pictures, photographs, sound recordings, paintings
When a work is copyrighted, the author will
usually place a copyright notice on
it to show that the work has exclusive rights and cannot be used by any other
individual or entity. Copyright notices before March 1, 1989 were required to
be included when a work was published. Otherwise the work would become public
Works published on or after March 1, 1989 do not require the notice to
be protected, though it is beneficial to include it. The notice ensures that
the original owner will receive full damage awards if copyright infringement is
How are Copyright Notices
Depending on the type of medium, a copyright
notice is presented in two different ways. For a work with both visual and
audio elements, such as a motion picture, the visual rules will apply. An audio
recording, absent of visual qualities, will not be placed on the work itself,
but rather on the packaging from which it is contained.
What is Contained in a
A copyright notice must have three key elements in
order for it to be valid.
1. An encircled “C” (if it is a visual
work) or an encircled “P” (if it is an audio work). This is the
symbol that indicates that the notice pertains to copyright laws and is a clear
indication that the work has indeed been copyrighted. The encircled
“C” may be substituted with the word “Copyright”.
2. Next, the year of the first publication date
should be included after the copyright symbol.
3. Finally, the name of the individual or entity
which owns the exclusive copyrights to the work is placed after the year.