Question about copyright lines

Daniel Remenak dtremenak at
Fri Mar 3 15:40:42 CST 2006

On 3/3/06, Segin <segin2005 at> wrote:
> Aric Cyr wrote:
> >Marcus Meissner <meissner <at>> writes:
> >
> >
> >
> >>On Fri, Mar 03, 2006 at 03:20:48PM +0100, Stefan Dösinger wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >>>Hello,
> >>>At the top of every fine there's are some "Copyright <year> <name>" lines,
> >>>listing the persons who have contributed to a file, and when. Are there any
> >>>specifc rules about that?
> >>>
> >>>
> If you reverse the name and year, the copyright is invalid and
> unenforcable in the United States and many European states.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, that is certainly not
true, and probably not in any other Berne Convention country ("Since
the Berne Convention prohibits formal requirements that affect the
"exercise and enjoyment" of the copyright, the United States changed
its law on March 1, 1989, to make the use of a copyright notice
optional.").  See and for the United States, and and for
the UK.

"The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law,
although it is often beneficial." (circ03)  "Although a few countries
require that a work be marked with the international (c) mark followed
by the name of the copyright owner and year of publication, this is
not essential in most countries, including the UK." (copyclaim) "All
the Western European countries, the USA and Russia belong to the Berne
Convention which does not even require your work to be marked in any
way for automatic protection to apply." (copyright faq)

In the U.S., "The notice for visually perceptible copies should
contain three elements. They should appear together or in close
proximity on the copies. The elements are:
1 The symbol (c) (the letter C in a circle), or the word "Copyright,"
or the abbreviation "Copr."; and
2 The year of first publication...and...
3 The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation
by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative
designation of the owner." (circ03)

The elements just need to be in "close proximity" for the notice to be
valid...and the notice itself is not strictly necessary for copyright
protection, it's just useful for the lawyers if it gets challenged. 
(e.g. "There may still be instances, such as the defense of innocent
infringement, where the question of proper notice may be a factor in
assessing damages in infringement actions...The omission of notice
does not affect the copyright protection,
and no corrective steps are required if the work was published on or
after March 1, 1989." (fl100)).

For protection in countries which are signatories to the UCC but NOT
the Berne Convention (I don't know of any offhand), the year and name
do need to be in a specific order, AND you must also include the
C-in-a-circle symbol (c).  "To guarantee protection for a copyrighted
work in all UCC member countries, the notice must consist of the
symbol (c) (the word "Copyright" or the abbreviation are not
acceptable), the year of first publication, and the name of the
copyright proprietor." (circ03)

Disclaimer: This message does not constitute legal advice.

--Daniel Remenak

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