A copyright notice does not need to be affixed to a copyrighted work for the work to be protected under the law.

Proper copyright notice consists of the following three elements.

  • © Symbol: Most works should include the © symbol. (Although U.S. law also allows the word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”, the © symbol is preferable because it is internationally recognized whereas the other terms may not be). In the case of sound recordings, the ℗ symbol (the letter “p” in a circle) should be used instead.
  • Year of Publication: If the work has been published, the year of publication should be included. If the work is unpublished the notice should indicate the unpublished nature of the work in lieu of a year. The year does not need to be included in pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, with accompanying text, if any, reproduced in or on any useful article, such as greeting cards, stationery, or jewelry.
  • Copyright Owner’s Name: The notice should include the name of the copyright owner, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.

For example, a proper notice would look like this: © 2016 Copyright Alliance

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