Copyright Alliance has a useful FAQ that collects a number of questions and answers about copyright.
Works created after March 1, 1989 do not require a copyright notice in order to be protected under U.S. copyright law. However, there are a number of benefits to including a copyright notice, such as:
- It puts potential users on notice that copyright is claimed in the work.
- In the case of a published work, a notice may prevent a defendant in a copyright infringement action from attempting to limit his or her liability for actual or statutory damages based on the “innocent infringement” defense.
- It typically identifies the copyright owner at the time the work was first published, which may be useful for parties seeking permission to use the work.
- It typically identifies the year of first publication, which may assist in the determination of the term of copyright protection in the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire.
- It may assist in preventing the work from becoming an “orphan work” by identifying the copyright owner.
For an in-depth discussion about how to properly include a copyright notice on your work, please see Compendium (Third) Chapter 2200.
– Rob Kasunic, Director of Registration Policy and Practices at the United States Copyright Office