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Copyright Notice

Copyright notice is an identifier placed on copies of work to inform the public that the work is copyright protected.  Copyright notice is placed on the copies of work that are publicly distributed and on phonorecords.  Copyright notice generally consists of the symbol or word “copyright”, or “copr.”, or the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication.  For example, ©2009 Diana Sylvester.

Using copyright notice is now optional on copies of works published on and after March 1, 1989.  For all works published before that date, copyright notice was mandatory. Omission of copyright notice on all works first published before March 1, 1989 could result in loss of copyright protection if corrective steps are not resorted to within certain amount of time.  Now, it is up to the copyright owner to use the copyright notice, and such usage does not require prior permission from, or registration with the Copyright office.

Using Copyright notice is important, because it informs the public that the copy of work is protected by copyright.  In case of infringements, where a copy of work bears a copyright notice, the court may not consider an innocent infringement defense.  Infringement of a copy of work without copyright notice may be deemed as an innocent infringement resulting in a reduction in damages that the copyright owner may receive.

Unpublished copies of work do not require copyright notice.  A copy or phonorecord of work is considered as published when it is distributed to the public by way of public sale or transfer of ownership, rent, lease or lending.  A promise to offer a work for further distribution, public performance or public display also constitutes publication.  On the other hand, printing and other reproduction of copies of work, performing or displaying a work publicly or sending work to the copyright office does not constitute publication of work.

Form of copyright notice used on visually perceptible copies and phonorecords of sound recordings differ.  Visually perceptible copies refer to copies of work those that can be seen or read either directly (such as books) or with the aid of a machine (such as films.)

The copyright notice on visually perceptible copies should contain three elements, which should appear together or in close proximity on the copies.  They are: 1) The symbol ©; letter c in a circle or the word “copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”; and 2) The year of first publication; if it is a derivative work or compilation that incorporates a previously published material, then the date of first publication of that compilation or work is appropriate.  In pictorial graphic or sculptural work that has accompanying textual matter which is reproduced on any greeting cards, post cards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys or useful articles, the year may be omitted; and 3) the name of the owner of copyright or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized or any generally known alternative designation of the owner.

Phonorecords embody any sound recording; but they are defined as works that result from the fixation of a series of musical spoken or other sounds.  They do not include sound accompanying a motion picture or other audio-visual work.  Such phonorecords include audio tapes, cassettes or discs.  Copyright notice on such phonorecords should have the symbol “P” in a circle, the year of first publication and the name of the owner of the copyright on it.

In collective works such as a magazine, copyright notice applicable to the collective work is sufficient to indicate protection of every individual copy of work published in it, except advertisements.  A separate contribution to the collective work may bear its own copyright notice.

Another point to note with regard to copyright notice is that works by the US Government is not eligible for copyright protection unless there is a specification along with the copyright notice of certain portions of the work in which the copyright is claimed or the U.S.Government material is differentiated from the other portions.

The copyright notice on the phonorecords should be placed on them or their copies in such a way that a reasonable notice of the claim of copyright is conveyed.  It should be permanently legible to an ordinary user of the work under normal conditions of use and should not be concealed from view upon reasonable examination.  The position of the notice and affixation on various copies of work differs.  Some examples are:  For works published in book form, the copyright notice should be on the title page or on the first page immediately following the title page, or on either side of the front or back cover or on the first or last page of the main body of the work.

For works published as single leaf works, the copyright notice should be on the front or back side of the copy.

For works published as periodicals, or other serials, on any location acceptable for books; or as part of masthead or adjacent to it, or on a page containing the masthead; or adjacent to the prominent heading at or near the front of the issue having the title of the periodical and a combination of the volume and issue number and date of the issue.

For works published as separate contribution to collective works, the copyright notice should be placed under the title or on the same page if the work is only on one page.  For separate contributions extending to more than one page, the copyright notice should be exhibited under the title appearing at or near the beginning of the contribution; or on the first page of the main body of the contribution; or placed immediately where the contribution ends.  If the contribution is more than 20 pages, the copyright notice should be placed prominently on any of the pages, and the application of the notice to that contribution should be clear.

Works reproduced in machine readable copies should place their copyright notice with or near the title or at the end of the work, on visually perceptible printouts; or at the user’s terminal at sign on; or on continuous display on the terminal; or reproduced durably on a gummed or other label securely affixed to the copies or to a container used as a permanent holder for the copies.

The copyright notice embodied in the copies by a photomechanical or electronic process so that it ordinarily would appear whenever the work is performed in its entirety may be placed with or near the title; or with the cast, credits, and similar information; or at or immediately following the beginning of the work; or at or immediately preceding the end of the work.

The notice on works lasting 60 seconds or less, such as untitled motion pictures or other audiovisual works, may be placed on all locations mentioned above for longer motion pictures, and if the notice is embodied electronically or photo-mechanically, it shall be placed on the leader of the film or tape immediately preceding the work.

For audiovisual works or motion pictures distributed to the public for private use, the copyright notice may be placed on locations mentioned above and in addition it may be placed on the permanent housing or container.

For works embodied in two-dimensional copies, a copyright notice may be affixed directly, durably, and permanently to the front or back of the copies; or any backing, mounting, framing, or other material to which the copies are durably attached, such that they may withstand normal use.

For works reproduced in three-dimensional copies, a copyright notice may be affixed directly, durably, and permanently to any visible portion of the work; or on any base, mounting, or framing or other material on which the copies are durably attached.

For works on which it is impractical to affix a notice to the copies directly or by means of a durable label, placing a notice on a tag or durable label attached to the copy such that it remains with it as it passes through commerce is accepted as a proper exhibition of the copyright notice.

For works reproduced in copies consisting of sheet-like or strip material bearing multiple or continuous reproductions of the work, such as fabrics or wallpaper, the notice may be imprinted on the reproduction itself.  It may be placed at the margin, selvage, or reverse side of the material at frequent and regular intervals; or if the material do not contain a selvage nor reverse side, copyright notice may be placed on tags or labels attached to the copies and to any spools, reels, or containers housing them in such a way that the notice is visible in commerce.

Inside Copyright Notice