Unlocking the Power of the Copyright Symbol

A Guide to Creation and Usage

We have all seen it. The circle with the “c” in the center. It’s typically tucked away at the edge, the bottom of a website or graphic art. Though relatively small, its presence holds considerable significance, especially for the copyright holder.


What is a Copyright Symbol?

The copyright symbol often called a copyright notice, is an identifier that tells the world that someone owns an original creation. It is designed as the capital “C” in the center of a circle ©.

This symbol works per the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention, which states that, along with the ©, a notice must also contain the name of the copyright owner and the year the original work was published or produced. The same conditions are also mentioned in the U.S. 1976 Copyright Act.

However, since March 1, 1989, the Copyright Act removed the requirement for copyright notices. This means that creators of material published or produced after March 1, 1989 no longer had to put the copyright symbol on their work because they automatically enjoy the common law protections of copyright law. Nevertheless, creators still use the © to safeguard their legal rights further and as a deterrent against potential copyright violations.

Why Should I Use a Copyright Symbol?

A copyright symbol is a simple way to denote that the material used is someone else’s original creation. When the © is present, it is easy to determine that they need the owner’s permission before use.

When the work has been used without permission, it is then easier for the copyright holder to file a copyright infringement lawsuit or negotiate compensation and acknowledgment. With a copyright symbol in place, those who have infringed cannot claim they didn’t know the work was copyrighted. If there is no symbol or mark, a claim can be made that the material was used without being aware of the copyright, which may result in a weaker infringement claim.

A copyright symbol may also help determine the term of protection based on the year of publication. It may also help establish the copyright owner’s identity in cases where the material has existed for decades.

While it isn’t necessary to register a copyright, doing so affords you more rights and protection if infringement occurs. If you are ready to register your copyright to protect your material, our team at SecureMark Legal is waiting to assist you. Don’t let your hard work become someone else’s.

Using the Copyright Symbol

If you are a copyright owner, it is your responsibility to use the copyright symbol or provide a copyright notice on the material. The copyright icon itself contains three main elements:

  1. The © icon or the word “copyright” or its abbreviated form “copr.”
  2. The copyright owner’s name – this isn’t necessarily the author or creator. It may be other individuals or a company that hired the creator.
  3. The first year of publication or production. However, this may not be necessary for images, graphics, sculptures, or other forms of artwork. For example, per Copyright guidelines, a production date may not be needed for reproduced copyrighted works such as greeting cards, postcards, or toys.

Placing the Copyright Symbol

Copyright owners may use any placement for their icons or notices. However, it is in the owner’s best interest to apply some form of formalities when placing their notices. There are two things to be considered:

  1. It must not be concealed.
  2. It must be legible or easy to read by anyone who sees the material.

The copyright notice may appear on the front or back for single-page materials. In books or multi-page materials, the copyright notice is typically placed on the following:

Copyrights on websites can be different. The copyright notice may be sufficient on the footer of the home page. Some website owners place them on every page, which is also acceptable. Website owners may also put clickable copyright notices that redirect users to the details of the copyright, such as permissions, restrictions, and other information that may be useful to deter violations.

Examples of Copyright Symbols

Some of the more common copyright notices look like the following: (Symbol or word) (Year of publication) (Copyright Owner)

© 2023 Jane Doe

Copyright 2023 SecureMark Legal

Copr 2023 Photography, Inc.

In situations where the work is unpublished but still protected by copyright law, they may look like the following:

“Unpublished © Jane Doe”

“Unpublished Copyright 2023 SecureMark Legal”

“Unpublished Copr 2023 Photography, Inc.”

Typing the Copyright Symbol

There are several ways to insert or type the copyright icon into your documents, or anywhere it’s needed.

  1. Copy it from the web: Copy and paste the copyright character directly from the Internet.
  2. Type the copyright symbol: Windows: If you’re using a PC or Windows-based laptop, press and hold the ALT key while typing 0169 on the number pad.
  3. Type the Copyright symbol on a Mac: On a Mac, press and hold the OPTION key on the keyboard and type “g” for the copyright symbol.
  4. Access it via the character map: The © is available via the character map on any computer.

If you’re using Windows:

Go to start-up window, then:

  1. All apps
  2. Windows accessories
  3. Character map

On a MacOS, click the Edit selection from the menu bar on the top of the screen. For example, select “Emoji & Symbols,” then search for the copyright icon.

How Long Does Copyright Protection Last?

The length of copyright protection for a particular work depends on several critical factors, including whether it has been published and, if so, the date of first publication. However, the U.S. Copyright Office generally states that for any work created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the creator’s lifetime plus an additional 70 years.

For anonymous works, pseudonymous works, or works made for hire, the copyright lasts for 95 years from the first publication date or 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.

Works published before 1978 will have a copyright term depending on other factors. To determine the length of copyright protection, check Chapter 3 of the Copyright Act.

Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights

Are you ready to take the next step to protect your intellectual property rights? SecureMark Legal has a team of experienced attorneys ready to help protect your creative expression. By registering your copyright, you are gaining exclusive rights to control the use and distribution of your work and pursue damages from those that infringe on those rights. Don’t let your hard work become easy to access for others. Working with our attorneys, we will ensure that what you create is protected. In infringement cases, SecureMark will assist you in pursuing damages or coming to a reasonable solution. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.




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