Usage Guidelines for the Copyright Symbol

How and where to place the copyright symbol and copyright notice on your work

When placed in or on your work, the copyright symbol—©—denotes that you hold the copyright to that work. You don't need to wait until you've filed your copyright application to place the copyright symbol on your work.

The Copyright Notice

The copyright notice should always be placed on your work in an obvious spot. The copyright notice, which includes the copyright symbol, should look like this:

Copyright © [COPYRIGHT OWNER’S NAME]. All Rights Reserved.

As shown in the above example, the word “copyright” and the copyright symbol should constitute the first part of your copyright notice.

Following the copyright symbol is the date. You should insert the year in which your work was created (if you are copyrighting a collection of short stories, use the year that the last piece in the collection was created).

In place of [COPYRIGHT OWNER’S NAME] in the sample copyright notice above, you should insert the name or names of the copyright holder(s). This can be an individual, several individuals, a business entity, or the name of your band or organization.

Typing the Copyright Symbol

To type the copyright symbol in most word processors, simply place a lowercase c in between parenthesis (c). Most word processor programs, such as Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages, will automatically turn this into the appropriate copyright symbol, ©.

In Windows, you can also hold down the “Alt” key while typing in 0-1-6-9. This will also create the copyright symbol in your text.

Do I Even Need to Place The Copyright Notice on My Work?

If your work was created after March 1, 1989, the copyright notice isn’t required, but placing the copyright notice prominently on your work is a smart move. The presence of the copyright notice warns anyone who sees it that you are claiming ownership in the material. This may deter potential infringers.

By placing the copyright notice on your work, you eliminate the “innocent infringer” defense commonly attempted by those committing copyright infringement. With the copyright notice on the work, the “innocent infringer” can’t argue that he or she had no idea that the work was copyrighted. This alone is a great reason to have the copyright notice on your work.


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