Using the © symbol is an easy way to notify the world that copyright exists in your original, creative work. While it’s not required by law to use the © to establish copyright in a photograph, piece of music or other creative work, it’s simple to do and could save you a lot of headache down the road.
Writing the copyright notice out as: ©; followed by the year the work was created; then the name of the creator; and then finally by the phrase ‘All rights reserved’ …is the simplest way to do it.
For example: © 2013 Janie Doe. All rights reserved. This line of text notifies others that the work is protected by copyright; it identifies the owner/creator of the work and lists the year of first publication. (First publication can be the first time the work was written down and distributed, even if it’s written on a napkin or scrap of paper).
You might say that it’s easy for somebody to copy my music or photograph and just leave off the copyright notice. Yes, you’re right it is easy to do and it does happen. But the good news is that you are still protected anyway and the person who copies your work and deletes the copyright notice won’t have the defense of being an innocent infringer. Down the road if a copyright dispute arises, having initially placed a copyright notice on your work could come to your rescue.
Add the copyright notice to your sheet music, photographs, music video clips, website and electronic postings to create an official notice of your copyright ownership. [Note that even if you are using the copyright symbol, it is still a good idea to register with the copyright office too! For info on copyright registration, see: http://wp.me/p10nNq-13]
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: other blog posts on related topics – “Put The World On Notice of Your Copyright“; “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35″ or As of 5/1/14 “Some Basic Copyright Claims now cost $55“; “How to use the ®, TM, SM, © symbols for trademark and copyright“; “Copyright Is Valuable, ‘The Birthday Song’ Earns $2 Million a Year In Royalties“; @ iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.