Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Copyright Notice - Not Required But Helpful

By Carolyn Wright

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 hard 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 2005 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 2005 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.


Copyright 2005 Carolyn E. Wright All Rights Reserved


Carolyn E. Wright, Esq., has a unique legal practice aimed squarely at
the needs of photographers. A pro photographer herself, Carolyn has
the credentials and the experience to protect photographers. She’s
represented clients in multimillion dollar litigations, but also has the
desire to help new photographers just starting their careers. Carolyn
graduated from Emory University School of Law with a Juris Doctor, and
from Tennessee Tech Univ. with a Masters of Business Administration
degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in music.

She wrote the book on photography law. “88 Secrets to the Law for
Photographers," by Carolyn and well-known professional photographer,
Scott Bourne, is scheduled for fall 2005 release by Olympic Mountain
School Press. Carolyn also is a columnist for PhotoFocus Magazine.

Carolyn specializes in wildlife photography and her legal website is

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