Do I need to post a copyright notice with my work?

CopyrightIconCC0Posting a copyright notice is not required, but it may be desirable. Copyright exists from the moment you press the shutter button, even if you publish the photographs online or elsewhere with no copyright notice. This was not always the case. For photographs published earlier than March 1, 1989, publication without proper notice could forfeit copyright.

Today, even though notice is not required, it is a good idea. Posting a copyright notice on your work lets people know that you own the copyright and intend to enforce it. This may make people less likely to infringe your copyright, and it also means they cannot argue that they didn’t know the work was copyrighted. When the notice is included in photo metadata or as a watermark, and an infringer removes it, the infringer may be liable for greater damages. You can post a copyright notice even if you have not registered your copyright.

Proper copyright notice includes three elements:

  1. The word “Copyright,” the abbreviation “Copr.” or the symbol: ©;
  2. The year of first publication; and
  3. The name of the owner of the copyright. [1]

If any one of these elements is missing, then the work will be treated as if it did not have any notice at all.

In addition, you should include the statement, “All Rights Reserved,” as certain Latin American countries do not recognize the word “copyright” or its abbreviations as a proper copyright notice.

Therefore, a proper copyright notice may be in this form:

Copyright 2016 by Andrea Green. All Rights Reserved.

  1. 17 U.S.C. §401(b).
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