copyright notice

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Copyright notice is a legal form of notice to inform users of the copyright ownership of published works of the basic requirements.

The function of the copyright notice is to let the public know that the work is copyrighted, identify the copyright owner, and display the year of first publication. Further, in the case of copyright infringement, the appropriate notice would preclude the defendant from using the innocent infringement defense, which could result in a reduction in the damages that the copyright owner would otherwise have received.

Although placing a copyright notice on work would provide certain benefits to the copyright holder. In 1989 the U.S. joined the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. In accordance with the requirements of the Berne Convention, copyright notice is no longer a condition of protection for works published after March 1, 1989. This change to the notice requirement applies only prospectively to copies of works publicly distributed after March 1, 1989.  All works published prior to this date must use the notice, otherwise they may risk losing copyright protection.

A copyright notice must include the copyright symbol(©), the name of the copyright owner, and the first published year. It also should be apparently viewed in normal use.

[Last updated in February of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]