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Registration and other requirements

The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is “created” when it is fixed in a tangible form, such as the first time it is written or recorded. Neither publication, registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright, although registration is recommended.

The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial. This requirement was eliminated when the United States adhered to the Berne Convention, effective March 1, 1989. Should the copyright holder elect to utilize a copyright notice, he/she may do so freely without permission from or registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. In fact, the use of a copyright notice is recommended as it reminds the public that the work is protected by copyright.

The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:

  • The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”
  • The year of first publication of the work.
  • The name of the owner of copyright in the work (Example, © 2013 John Doe).