How to Write a Copyright Notice (Copyright Examples)

Copyright refers to legal protection that offers an individual control over their original piece of work. It can also be defined as the right to copy. This means that innovators of a product/program and original authors of work, alongside any other authorized party, are the only ones with the exclusive right to replicate the work.

When an individual comes up with an invention that is perceived as unique and that took a substantial amount of time and creativity to create, the result becomes an intellectual property that necessitates protection from unlicensed duplication and infringement.   

The most common forms of intellectual property that require copyright protection are:

  • Inventions (such as unique computer software)
  • Literary and artistic works such as poetry, novels, and films
  • Graphic designs,
  • Musical lyrics and compositions
  • Website content and blogs
  • original architectural designs
  • Names and symbols are used for commercial purposes.

How Copyrighting Works

Under copyright law, an invention is only professed as unique/original if the author created it from independent thinking, void of replication. Such types of works are usually referred to as Original Works of Authorship (OWA). Any individual with an OWA is bound to receive protection upon its completion. This means that one does not have to go through the official registration process if they find it unnecessary. However, it is still important that the original author of a work use a copyright notice to protect his/her work under the law, to the dominance in the event of a legal issue in the future, or if they intend to commercialize the work.

Inventors of work should note that such protection does not apply to all types of work.


  • Ideas, concepts, discoveries, and methods that are in intangible form
  • Any creative expressions that are intangible
  • Titles, designs, names, familiar symbols, or slogans
  • Ingredient lists
  • Variations in scripts or typefaces

important note

For intellectual property to be protected under copyright law, the original author must convert it into a tangible form. This means that any speech, musical lyrics, compositions, or ideas and discoveries must be physically written down to be protected under law.

A copyright notice is a voluntary declaration placed on an individual’s work to inform the public that he/she owns the full rights to the work and that it is protected by law. Such notices are no longer mandatory for a piece of creative work to be safeguarded under the law. In the United States, a copyright notice is noncompulsory for any foreign works, unpublished works, and works published after March 1, 1989, when the U.S. signed on to the Berne Convention. However, if the work was published before this date, a copyright notice was mandatory for the work to be protected by law.

While original creators of work are no longer required to use a notice to gain legal protection for their work, its use is ‌recommended due to the following reasons:

  • It serves to inform the public that a specific piece of work is protected by law. Thus, it helps in avoiding potential infringers.
  • It prevents any third party from claiming an ‘unintentional infringer’ status, which under the Copyright Act allows a third party who has reproduced the work to escape certain damages.
  • It provides information about the author and the year the work was first published. This allows third parties to know whom to contact for licensing requests and permission to use the work.

Copyright registration is not mandatory, but registering can have numerous advantages for the author of an original work.

These include:

  • It allows the author to sue others for copyright infringement.


If the registration is made three months after publication, the original author of the work can win the infringement case and collect statutory damages as well as attorney’s fees. Without the registration, an individual can only collect actual damages.

  • Given that registration is done before or within five years of the publication of an original creative expression, it will establish prima facie evidence in a law court verifying the validity of the copyright and the facts stated in the registration certificate.
  • Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim and allows for documentation of a change of ownership.
  • It inhibits the importation of any infringing copies of an author’s work.

A copyright notice should be placed visibly on a piece of work such that whenever another person views the work, he/she can immediately tell that the work is protected. Generally, the placement depends on the type of work being protected.

Discussed below are examples of common placement locations for various sorts of work:


  • Such notices on websites and blogs are often displayed in the footer. However, some creators of websites choose to include a dedicated declaration section or page in their work. In addition, the author of the blog or website should include a date range in the copyright notice to ensure that the entire site’s content is protected.
  • Photos and other forms of digital art mostly have a statement displayed as a footer on the work or placed as a watermarked label
  • Videos and films usually have their copyright notice placed in the description box
  • Inventors of computer software mainly place a statement on the medium of distribution- if the medium used to distribute the software is physical, the notice will typically be displayed on the disk that contains the software. On the other hand, if it is downloaded, it will appear on a screen page displayed whenever the software is downloaded.
  • Copyright notices on digital works should always appear on the terms and agreements page.

 A copyright notice usually comprises four key elements: the copyright symbol, the work’s first year of publication, the owner’s name, and a statement of rights.

These elements are discussed below:

The symbol is usually abbreviated as (©), or the word “copyright” is abbreviated as “Copr.” The (©) notice is used only on visually observable copies, such as computer software and mobile apps. For other kinds of work, such as musical lyrics and compositions and dramatic and literary works, the letter “P” in a circle is used to indicate protection.

The first year of publication of work

The notice indicates the year the work was first published or a date range if the piece of creative work is periodically updated. Indicating the year of publication and date range helps the public know how long such protection is bound to last.

Important Tip

If an author’s discovery is unpublished, the suitable format for the notice should be the phrase “unpublished work” preceded by the year of creation.

Owner’s name

A copyright notice must indicate the author’s full legal name or business name to make it easy for the public to determine whom to contact when they need permission to use the work.

Important Tip

The owner’s name can be a single person, several people, a business, or an organization.

Statement of Rights

It can also include the author’s statement of rights to clarify the level of control he/she holds over the piece of creative expression.

This can be indicated by using any of the following phrases:

  • Total/full/all rights reserved- This means that the author holds all rights to the work and that no third party can use it without their permission.
  • Some rights reserved- This means that the author allows the use of the work under certain exceptional circumstances, such as “fair use” purposes.
  • No rights reserved- this means that the author has released their work into the public domain.

Registration Process

Copyright registration is the process by which an author of the original work files a record of their ownership with the United States Copyright Office. Upon successful registration, the author receives an acknowledgment certificate.

It is important to note that registration is not mandatory for copyright protection. However, it is usually a precondition for filing a claim at the United States’ original works office. Nonetheless, an individual can still file an infringement lawsuit on previously unregistered works, provided they apply for registration immediately before initiating the lawsuit.

The process involved

Generally, applications for registration can be made anytime during the validity of the copyright. However, when registering one, the author must submit the following essential items to the US Copyright Office:

  • A properly filled application form usually submitted online or via mail


It is wise to submit the application online as it requires a lower processing fee and is usually processed faster than a paper application.

There is a wide assortment of such registration forms that one can use. The appropriate form to use depends on the type of content being registered.


Form TX is appropriate for published and unpublished non-dramatic literary works; Form VA is for visual arts; Form PA is used for musical, dramatic, and other audiovisual works; and Form SE is for serials, such as newspapers or periodicals.

The author is advised to pick the correct application form for the specific category of creative work.

  • A filing fee for online forms or hard copy forms. The filing fee is non-refundable.
  • A deposit of the piece of creative work being registered In most cases, the non-returnable deposit for the work being registered is one or two copies of the best publication of the work. Again, this requirement may vary depending on the type of work. Provisions are included for blocking out vital aspects of the work, such as the source code for a computer program, to shield trade secrets.

Mandatory Deposit Requirements

According to United States Section 407 of the Copyright Act, a copyright owner of published work must deposit certain mandatory copies of the work in the U.S Copyright Office within a period of not more than 3 months of its first publication.

According to the act, publication is defined as the circulation of copies or phone records of a work to the public commercially or through lending, leasing, or renting. The obligatory deposit requirements ensure that the Library of Congress has access to each work published in the U.S.

Failure to comply with this requirement has no effect on protection for the work, but its legal enforcement is applicable when the Register of Copyrights files a claim against the owner for failing to submit the mandatory deposits.

In such cases, if the required deposit is not made within a period of not more than 3 months from the time of the demand, the owner is penalized with a fine of not more than $250 for each copy of the published work and an additional dollar amount totaling the current retail price of each copy of the work. In addition, if the refusal to comply is established to be deliberate or recurrent, an additional fine of $2,500 is imposed on the owner.

Following are a few samples for better understanding:

Copyright Statement For Website

Common Law Copyright Notice

How To Write A Copyright Notice

Copyright Notice Format

Cd Copyright Notice Sample

Copyright Notice Sample

All Rights Reserved Copyright Notice

Copyright Notice Example

Copyright Notice Example Sentence

Copyright Notice Template

Copyright Notice Disclaimer Sample Youtube

Copyright Notice in Doc

Copyright Notice For Website


The United States Copyright law ensures that an author’s piece of creative work is copyrighted as soon as it is created. Whereas this may protect the work from theft and copyright infringement by other third parties, it may not be enough. To add an extra layer of protection for one’s work, the original author of the work can consider adding a copyright notice to the work to declare to the public that the content is copyrighted and requires authorization for use. In addition, he/she can consider registering the copyright with the United States Copyright Office to strengthen their case, should any third party ever commit copyright infringement.

About This Article

Bryan Brown
Authored by:
Licensed Attorney - Asset Protection, Business Formation, Contract Drafting, Real Estate, Securities, Tax
Bryan Brown is a seasoned attorney with a particular passion for empowering small businesses and startups. His comprehensive suite of services covers crucial areas like Asset Protection, enabling businesses to shield their pivotal assets, and Business Formation, guiding new enterprises through the foundational stages. Bryan's prowess in Contract Drafting ensures that businesses operate on robust agreements, while his insights into Real Estate, Securities, and Tax matters provide a holistic legal framework for clients. With a reputation for thoroughness and dedication, Bryan Brown stands as an invaluable asset for any business aiming to thrive in the Texas environment.

Was this helpful?

Great! Tell us more about your experience

Not Up to Par? Help Us Fix It!

Keep Reading

Thank You for Your Feedback!

Your Voice, Our Progress. Your feedback matters a lot to us.