Photo Attorney

Jun 22, 2005

Copyright Notice - Not Required But Helpful

You'll often see a copyright "notice" - the familiar © or the word "copyright" with a date and name of the copyright owner - posted on works of authorship. This copyright notice is no longer required for copyright protection, but it may be a good idea to use it.

Copyright is a legal form of protection granted by the U.S. Constitution for original works of authorship. Things such as books, plays, music, photographs and even websites are protected by copyright law.

If you use the copyright notice, it may stop someone from stealing your work, either because it reminds them that the work is protected or because the notice interferes with their use of the work. Also, it helps to post a copyright notice on your work because the infringer then can't say the use was innocent. You can even use the copyright notice without registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, but there are many other reasons why you should register your work.

If you have a website to show your photographs, it likewise is helpful to post a copyright notice on your website's pages. Again, there are no specific requirements for the notice or no certain language is needed for copyright protection for your photos on your website or even the website itself. One caveat - the words "All Rights Reserved" are needed for protection in places like South America, but it's difficult to prosecute your images there anyway.

It's odd that a company (whose owners are not lawyers) would "license" copyright language for others to use on their websites for $9.95, when nothing is required for protection. Put what you want on your website. Put only the basic notice like this: Copyright 2007 Carolyn E. Wright All Rights Reserved. Or, be more aggressive and use the language I use on my photography websites:

  • All photographs appearing on this site are the property of Carolyn Wright Photography. They are protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Carolyn Wright Photography. Copyright 2007 Carolyn E. Wright All Rights Reserved.

Feel free to copy and use that statement at no charge from me. Instead, take the $9.95 that you would have spent on licensing copyright language and put it towards registering your website and photographs. You'll be better off in the long run.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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