How to Create a Copyright Statement
Have you ever seen the term “all rights reserved” or the symbol “©” on a website or book? Both refer to copyright and copyright law. If you produce creative work, such as photography, music, or website articles, copyright limits others from using your work without permission. It may also provide you with legal protection if someone steals or takes credit for your creation and profits from it.
What Is a Copyright Notice?
There are a few ways to protect your original works, such as trademarks, patents, and copyrights. A copyright notice informs the public about who owns the work and what type of use the owner allows. According to the federal Copyright Office, a copyright notice is typically used for:
- Literary works;
- Contributions to collective works;
- Musical works;
- Sound recordings;
- Dramatic works;
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- Multipart works;
- Works published in machine-readable copies.
In addition, original content on websites and other digital media are protected by copyrights.
Fortunately, copyright is automatic and its protections start the moment you create the work. However, if you ever need to file a lawsuit because someone has infringed on your intellectual or creative property, or used your work without permission, you must apply for registration of the work first.
A 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court relaxed this rule by allowing individuals to register for copyright after the violation occurred in order to sue someone for copyright infringement. Once the work is registered, any infringements before or after the registration may be taken to court.
Advantages of Copyright Notice
The advantages of copyright notice include:
- Long-term protection (the life of the author plus 70 years)
- Easy and inexpensive to register (copyright notice fees are typically $45 – $65)
- Ability to bring an infringement lawsuit;
- The ability to win monetary damages from the lawsuit.
How to Write a Copyright Notice
Make sure a copyright notice is prominently displayed on your work where people can see it. On websites, copyright notices are typically displayed at the bottom of web pages. In books, it should be located on the title page or other first pages, the front or back book cover, or anywhere else that is easily noticed. Here is how to write a copyright notice:
There are two types of copyright symbols — the c-in-a-circle copyright notice (©) and the ℗ symbol for phone records. To create ”©”, type the parentheses with a c inside like this — (c). Your word processing program will convert it to the copyright symbol. If you’d like to add the symbol to your website’s HTML as “type ©” — or you can write out the word “copyright” or “copr”.
You should display the year the work was created. You may provide a range if the work took several years to create. For example, “© 1997-2019 Your Company, Inc.”
Name of Author/Owner
Include who created the original work and owns the copyright. If it’s a company, you may add “Inc.” for corporations or “LLC” for limited liability companies. Your copyright notice could look like this: “© 2020 Your Name” or “© 2019 Your Company, LLC.”
The rights statements details how others can use your work (if at all). The rights statement may limit others from copying, distributing, modifying, and displaying your work.
How to Use a Copyright Symbol
The copyright symbol should be prominently displayed and include other specifics as mentioned, such as the year it was created, company name, and a rights statement. Doing so will ensure that the public recognizes how the work may be used.
Sample Copyright Notices
You may add a statement to claim rights. Some include:
- All rights reserved: Rights to the work fully retained by the creator;
- No rights reserved: Available to the public domain for use;
- Some rights reserved: Providing the public some liberty to reproduce, display, or distribute the work.
Your statement could look like this — “Copyright © 2019 Your Company, Inc. All rights reserved.”
Can I Use a Copyrighted Work?
It’s important that you or your business understands copyrights. If you’re interested in sharing, republishing, or using someone else’s work, you may check for the copyright notice and what usage rights the owner provides the public. Even if the copyright notice displays “all rights reserved”, you could always call and ask the owner for permission.
There are occasions when you may not need to ask for permission to use someone else’s work — as long as you follow certain conditions. Fair Use laws don’t say how much of the copyrighted work is exempt from receiving permission to use the work. The conditions for using copyrighted work under transformative use without consent in advance include:
- When quoting the individual’s work and properly citing or attributing them;
- For a news report;
- To make a commentary or provide an opinion or criticism as long as the criticism isn’t defamatory and doesn’t constitute libel, or slander;
- For scholarly reports.
What Happens If Someone Uses My Copyrighted Work?
Using someone’s intellectual property without permission could lead to legal issues, such as an infringement lawsuit. Use caution when using music, photos, or written work without knowing who the original owner is or whether if you have permission to use the work.
If you feel that someone is using your work without permission, there are a few things you can do before you file a lawsuit. Depending on the severity of the infringement, you may want to consult with an attorney to get legal advice about your rights. Some actions you can take to settle your dispute out of court include:
- Contacting the company or individual and asking them to stop using the work or to take it down if it’s on their website or social media, or asking them to properly attribute it to you.
- If it’s on social media, file a copyright infringement complaint with the platform.
- Add a noticeable watermark to your photographs to reduce the chances of your work being used without permission.
- Get legal help to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice with the offender’s web hosting company, so the host removes the unauthorized instance(s) of your work.
If you’re not able to resolve the property dispute, you may need to talk with an attorney about filing a copyright infringement lawsuit. Before you sue a company or individual, you’ll need to register the work.
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