Creators who want to reuse certain works shouldn’t simply feel free to copy works just because they don’t have a copyright notice. Instead, they should consider getting a license to copy or reuse the work, or they should reuse the work according to the guidelines of Fair Use.
Even though it’s not required, there are two good reasons why it’s still a good idea to put a copyright notice on your work, especially if you plan on using your work commercially or if you’re concerned about someone infringing on your work.
1. Putting a notice on your work informs people that your work is copyrighted. Often people don’t fully understand what is and isn’t copyrighted. Some people even think that everything on the Internet is public domain.
The three requirements you need to follow to give valid notice of a sound recording (a phonorecord) are very similar:
1. The symbol ℗.
2. The year of first publication of the sound recording.
3. The name of the owner of copyright in the sound recording, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner. If the producer of the sound recording is named on the phonorecord label or container and if no other name appears in conjunction with the notice, the producer's name shall be considered a part of the notice.
Example: ℗ 2007 A. B. C. Records Inc.
NOTE: Since questions may arise from the use of variant forms of the notice, you may wish to seek legal advice before using any form of the notice other than those given here.
Position of Notice
The copyright notice should be affixed to copies or phonorecords in such a way as to "give reasonable notice of the claim of copyright." The three elements of the notice should ordinarily appear together on the copies or phonorecords or on the phonorecord label or container. The Copyright Office has issued regulations concerning the form and position of the copyright notice in the Code of Federal Regulations. For more information, see The US government’s website on copyright notice.
Works by the Federal government are not eligible in the United States.
Works published before March 1, 1989, required that an author give special notice that a work consisted primarily of one or more U. S. Government works. This requirement has been eliminated.
Just like earlier, notice is good to include even when using government works because it allows you to defend against claims of innocent infringement and helps clarify for readers which portions of your work are protected and what parts are strictly public domain material from the government.
Additionally, in the event that a case of infringement goes to court, the person accused of infringing won’t have much of a case for claiming “innocent infringement” (not realizing the work was protected) if there’s a clear notice of copyright protection present on the work.
What is "notice?"
Notice of copyright means informing the public, or putting the public on notice, that the work is protected by copyright. It also identifies the copyright owner and the year of first publication. Although the use of copyright notice is no longer required under United States copyright law, it is still a very relevant and important issue in copyright law. Its relevancy is due in large part to the fact that notice of copyright prevents an alleged copyright infringer from asserting innocent infringement as a defense.
To give notice, an author doesn’t have to get permission from or register with the United States Copyright Office. However, registering with the Copyright Office gives what is called “constructive notice” to the work, which means that an infringer will be presumed as knowing that the work being infringed upon is copyrighted, once again protecting from innocent infringement.
Notices should appear on copies of a work and include the following:
If you have questions regarding whether you need to place a copyright notice on your work or how to correctly comply with the notice requirements, feel free to contact New Media Rights via our contact form to find out whether you qualify for free or reduced fee legal services. We also offer competitive full fee legal services on a selective basis. For more information on the services we provide click here.
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