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Adding a Copyright Notice to Files

Source: Canva

We have already covered the topic of using other people’s work and the issue of attribution. Now, it is time to figure out how to protect the work that is produced in your company. Being an online worker, adding copyright or, at least making sure it is done correctly, is one of your responsibilities.

There is a difference between a copyrightunregistered and registered trade mark. The copyright is marked by the well-known symbol©, unregistered trade mark has the symbol ™ and the registered trade mark has the symbol®.

In order to use ™ or ©, you don’t have to apply to any authority agency or anything similar. However, such application is necessary in order to use ® rightfully.

You can protect your files, publications, website content and other works that you or your company produce.Your copyright sign needs to have three elements:

  • The copyright symbol
  • Year of the first publication
  • Author or copyright holder

It can also have a statement about the rights in the end, but that is no longer used or needed.

The copyright symbol can be easily replaced with a simple phrase ‘Copyright by’ or the abbreviation ‘Copr.’ There is no difference between these two options.

The symbol should be followed with the year of first publication. Notice that it doesn’t have to be the same as the year the work was completed. For example, you had a text you written in 2009, but it was unpublished until 2016. In that case, the year you list is 2016.

The author of the work and the copyright holder don’t have to be the same person. If the copyright holder is the person, put that name after the copyright sign or phrase. This is also the place where you should put the name of the website or the company that holds the copyright.

Therefore, some of the examples of the copyright formats would be:

© 2016 John Smith

© 2013 your-website.com

Still, this format is not set in stone. It is just a preference, and most people and organisations do it that way. There are different variants and all of them include these elements, but their order may vary.

How to Make a Copyright Sign?

If you are typing it in Word or using Google Docs, it is enough to use the combination of the following symbols (c) and these text editors will automatically turn it into ©. If this doesn’t work for any reason, you can use the Insert>Special Symbols and find it there.

In Windows, you will make this symbol by holding down ALT and typing numbers 0169Mac users need to hold down Option while pressing G. If you are using HTML, you should type in ©

Where to Put the Copyright Notice?

There is no exact place that you should aim for. The rules say that it should be positioned so that it gives reasonable notice of copyright. For websites, like Gazebos Australia it is usually at the very bottom of the page. Same goes with individual texts published on those websites.

copyright notice positioned at the bottom of the website

Books and other multi-paged material usually have their copyright notice in the first or the last page or the book covers.

Is a Copyright Sign Really Necessary?

Actually, you don’t really need it anymore. Using this type of copyright is outdated. In the US, all the works created before January 1978 still need to have the copyright notice. However, authors who created works after that, are no longer obliged to put copyright notice on their work to protect it.

1988 Berne Convention Implementation Act was implemented in 1989. This is an international convention and it says that a copyright notice is optional for all works created after the March 1st, 1989.

Why Should You Add the Copyright Notice Anyway?

So, if it’s not necessary, you don’t have to add it right? Well, not quite.

The reason are all those people that aren’t very knowledgeable about the copyright. Just because it doesn’t say that the work is copyrighted, it doesn’t mean that it’s free to use. Not all people understand that.

In other words, while your copyright notice doesn’t provide you with more legal protection, it can prevent cases of “innocent infringement.” That is the case when perpetrators claim that they weren’t aware that they are making an infringement because there was no copyright notice.

The difference is in the fine. “Innocent infringement” is fined less than the “ordinary” one. Therefore, it takes up only a little bit of space and only a couple of seconds of your time to set up a copyright notice and it can still offer some additional protection.

In Summary

In order to be sure that everybody is aware that your files and publications are protected, you should use a copyright notice on your work. Even if that is the company’s property, it still needs to be protected.

While copyright notice is not obligatory, having it still helps prevent cases of ‘innocent infringement’. In order for it to work, it needs to be positioned in a way that makes it reasonably visible and it has to have a proper format.

Proper format starts with the copyright symbol ©, phrase “Copyright by” or the abbreviation “Copr.” Other elements are the year of publication and the name of the copyright holder. The prefered order of these elements is: symbol, year, name. However, it is not necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which elements need to be included in the copyright notice?

a. Copyright symbol (or phrase or abbreviation), copyright holder name and year of publication

b. Copyright symbol (or phrase or abbreviation), copyright holder name and year of creation

c. Copyright symbol, phrase “Copyright by” and abbreviation “Copr.”

d. Copyright symbol only is enough

2. Is your work protected even if there is no copyright notice?

a. No. Reasonably visible copyright notice is the only way to protect your work.

b. Yes, but visible copyright notice can prevent some cases of infringement.

3. How can you express the copyright?

a. Using the phrase “Copyright by”

b. Using the symbol ©

c. Using the abbreviation “Copr.”

d. Any of the above

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