Copyright Symbols

We’ve all probably seen what a copyright symbol looks like. In most works, companies, and items, the encircled letter “c” along with the name and date. While most of us might have a basic understanding of the term copyright and what the symbol stands for, we don’t always get deep into its nitty-gritty details. If you’re the enterprising or the creative type whose works you’d like to make your own, it’ll help you a great deal to know about copyright symbols. 

Understanding the proper usage of a copyright symbol is essential in protecting your hard work. While using it is optional, consider it necessary to remind or let others know that this piece of work is yours. Examples of copyrightable works are books, sound recordings, photos, choreography, and poetry. Copyrighting must be automatic upon creation of the said work though registration isn’t necessary. 

Navigating intellectual property law can be pretty tricky for most, with all the things you’d have to register and undergo to have your work protected. Thankfully, a Washington, D.C. intellectual property lawyer is available to help you go through the copyright process. 

Allow this blog right here to be your guide in knowing the basics of copyright symbols, such as what it is, when, and how to use them. Should you find yourself needing legal assistance in understanding intellectual property terms, never hesitate to seek the guidance of an intellectual property law expert

What Are Copyright Symbols?

Copyright symbols are placed on original works to protect them, to tell others that this is the original creation of a certain creator. Creators are urged to copyright and register their tangible works. While registering isn’t necessary, registration provides creators with legal rights and protection against copyright infringement or the usage and reproduction of copyright-protected material without permission from its owner or creator. Tangible works are considered eligible for copyright upon their creation. 

Copyright symbols are characterized by a letter c enclosed in a circle or the word “Copr.” All works are copyrighted and protected upon creation, and prior to March 1, 1989, the copyright symbol was mandatory on all published works; after this date, the copyright symbol became optional. While you always have a choice, it is urgent to indicate that it is copyrighted using the symbol as it will help identify you as the owner and creator of the said work. 

If you need a better understanding of intellectual property law or are dealing with copyright infringement of your work, it is advisable to seek the legal advice of a Washington D.C. IP lawyer who can handle your case and work with you towards the best possible outcome. 

Where Did the Copyright Symbol Originate?

The copyright symbol started in 1954, but there’s a bit more history to this recognizable symbol than just a mere letter c in a circle. Back in the day, various symbols were used to denote ownership of a certain piece of work which then came in the form of a seal that proved the authentication of a book. Eventually, the Copyright Act of 1802 required copyright usage for publishers who wished to enjoy copyright protection. 

The Copyright Act of 1909 extended the term copyright from 42 years to 56 years. Initially, most works only required ‘Copyright’ or its abbreviation Copr. But for maps and other copies of art, they would use a new symbol. This symbol is the familiar copyright symbol we know. However, it wasn’t until 1954 that the symbol would be accepted as a copyright sign, and it was not yet part of the Berne Convention. 

The copyright symbol might be quite a small detail to be still paying attention to, but there are laws and protections around it that carry a lot of weight for most creators. 

How Do I Correctly Use a Copyright Symbol?

There are several ways of properly using a copyright symbol, though using it and registering for it isn’t mandatory. Here are some of the few acceptable formats for using copyright symbols:

  • © 2022 John Doe (The most common one, with the symbol, the date of publication, and the author’s name)
  • Copr. 2022 John Doe (Abbreviated version of copyright, date of publication, and name of author)
  • Copyright 202 John Doe (The term copyright is fully spelled out together with the date of publication and author’s name.)

The term “All Rights Reserved” can also be included based on the creator’s preference. “All Rights Reserved” indicates that the creator holds all rights to his creative work, including the right to make copies, distribute, and publicly display them. Copyright notice location also depends upon the creator, but typically a notice would suffice regardless of the preferred place to indicate it. Copyright Offices have specific guidelines regarding the copyright symbol location, however. 

Registering your work with the Copyright Office offers additional protection, but it is still optional. Your work will still be considered protected by copyright regardless; however, registering it gives additional legal protection. Should you feel confused with intellectual property law, seek the legal counsel of a Washington, D.C intellectual property lawyer to sort your IP issues out. 

What Is a Copyright Notice, and How Do I Format It?

Any work that you create is automatically copyrighted and protected by law. If you wish to sue for copyright infringement and take it to court, it is best to have a copyright notice. A copyright notice helps protect your creations’ rights regardless of whether you’ve registered it or not. 

Copyright notices are statements placed on your work to indicate that you are its owner and creator. Its purposes include:

  • Giving notice to potential infringers.
  • Being evidence of infringement.
  • Providing information regarding the author. 

Seek Legal Advice

If you’re having trouble with copyrighting your works or are dealing with copyright infringement cases regarding your copyrighted material, it’s best to deal with these matters with the guidance of an experienced intellectual property lawyer at War IP Law, LLC. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through every step and help you protect your IP rights.