Copyright notice: Everything to know - Pixsy
creative commons cc

What is a copyright notice, when to use one and how should it look like?

Photo by Umberto

There are many ways to protect your images online and one of the best-known methods is to use a copyright notice. What is it exactly, how should you use it and is it a bulletproof tool against image theft? 

What is a copyright notice?

A copyright notice is a statement of copyright related to a given work that also expresses who the copyright holder is (whether it is the work’s creator or the person the copyright was transferred to).

Benefits of a copyright notice 

A copyright notice can be beneficial as it:

  • States that the work is protected by copyright and identifies the copyright holder 
  • Signals the image use possibilities, if any, defined by the copyright owner
  • Can be useful in a copyright infringement case against the infringer
  • Can help avoid image theft 

Is a copyright notice required?

A copyright notice is not legally required but has clear benefits: it helps in identifying the copyright holder and it can also prove useful as legal evidence in a case about unauthorized image use.

The main reason a copyright notice is not a must-have is because of the way image copyright works: the person who created the work automatically becomes its copyright holder at the same time.

However, if you’d end up in trial against someone who allegedly misused your work, if you can show that you have also officially registered your work at the U.S. Copyright Office, you likely have better chances. 

Registering your work for copyright, again, is not a legal necessity, but can be helpful this way.

When to use a copyright notice?

You should use a copyright notice if you agree with all the above-mentioned benefits, or in short: if you’d like to protect your intellectual property when showing it to the general public, and especially online.

As mentioned above, a copyright notice is not a bulletproof tool against copyright infringement but increases your work’s protection. You have nothing to lose with a copyright notice and since it’s easy to add one to your work, why wouldn’t you.

laptop with imagePhoto by Igor Miske

How do you write a copyright notice?

Here’s what you need to know based on the laws currently in effect in the US.

What you should include in a copyright notice:

  • The creator’s/copyright owner’s name
  • The copyright symbol (©) or  the word “copyright”, or ​​the abbreviation “Copr.”
  • The year of first publication
  • A statement of rights/licenses (e.g. “All Rights Reserved”)

What you can include in a copyright notice optionally:

  • Contact information where people can reach you as the copyright holder (e.g., website)
  • Time range of owning a copyright since the year of creation and first publication

Adding what license your work holds, is critical. Crediting your image this way provides information about the possibilities of using that image on a scale from “All Rights Reserved” to having it released into the public domain.

Where to use a copyright notice?

Follow these rules when displaying your copyright notice:

  • Place the copyright notice adjacent to the image or other work. This usually means having it below or next to the image. For other types of work, there are different and common methods such as books having a copyright page on one of the first pages.
  • Display the copyright notice in a visually perceptible and clearly readable way. For this, pay attention to font styles and sizes.

Protect your images with AI power

If you’d like to learn more about the world of copyright, visit the Pixsy Academy and learn about the rights of image owners and image users.

If you have visual works online that you wish to protect with minimal effort, then Pixsy is a good choice. With Pixsy’s AI-powered reverse image search tool (free for 500 images per month), you can see where and how your images are being used online. 

Besides monitoring your images, you can also take action on your own by sending legally binding one-click takedown notices globally, or have Pixsy’s international legal team resolve your copyright infringement claims.

Sign up for free and see what Pixsy can do for you!