Many people do not realize that the familiar copyright symbol © is not mandatory under Canadian copyright law. Why then do we see that popular copyright symbol in every published book and on all sorts of copyright-protected materials?
The Copyright Symbol ©
The copyright symbol is a reminder to the world at large that copyright exists in a work. You place the symbol on your work – it becomes obvious to people that that article, blog post or image is protected by copyright. If you ever end up suing a possible copyright infringer for using your work without your permission, the copyright symbol provides evidence that the alleged infringer should have known that copyright existed in your work.
Locating a Copyright Owner
Using a copyright symbol may also help people who want to use your work to locate you and ask you for permission to use your work. Including your name is part of marking your copyright-protected works with the copyright symbol.
Suing for Copyright Infringement in the United States
Using the copyright symbol is also important if you are suing someone for copyright infringement in the United States since the U.S. Copyright Act precludes an alleged infringer from submitting that he did not know that copyright existed in a work where a proper copyright notice had been placed on the work.
Should You Use the Copyright Symbol?
Bottom line: although not mandatory under Canadian copyright law, you should consider placing the symbol along with year of first publication of the work and the name of the copyright owner on all content. Put it in a visible spot that is sure to alert the user. One format for this copyright marking is:
© 2014 Lesley Ellen Harris
You can go further and add a hyperlink so people who want to use your work can easily contact you. You can also add any wording to indicate any free uses of your content – uses that you do not necessarily want to be emailed about by persons requesting permissions.
For further information on using the copyright symbol in Canada, see pages 36 – 38, Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition.
The International Copyright Symbol post sets out information on the copyright symbol symbol in Canada and internationally.