Re: legal status of ©?

Alex Stewart (riche@crl.com)
Sun, 14 May 95 16:23:31 -0800


Message-Id: <9505142323.AA0754@localhost>
Date: Sun, 14 May 95 16:23:31 -0800
From: Alex Stewart <riche@crl.com>
Subject: Re: legal status of &copy;?
To: ddixon@hti.net
Cc: www-html@www10.w3.org
In-Reply-To: <199505142021.PAA29914@wally.hti.net> from "David W. Dixon" at May 14 95 4:34 pm

> Though I am not an attorney and am not trying to be, according to some legal
> eagle freinds of mine the copyright symbol really does no matter.  If it is
> your work, ideas, designs, etc.. it is yours and it is illegal to copy this
> work whether there is a copyright symbol or not.  Does anyone know if this
> is right? I am curious if some of my lawyer buddies really know what they
> are talking about.  

Please note, I'm not a lawyer either, but this is my understanding of the
situation:

Under international copyright law, copyright is implicit with any work you
create.  In 1978 the US altered its own copyright laws to comply with
international copyright, which is why everything changed on that date for US
stuff.  Most (but, I believe, not all) nations have likewise adopted the
implicit copyright system as well, so in all of these nations it is no longer
necessary to specify explicitly that a work is copyrighted.

However, there are advantages to explicitly specifying a copyright.  If any
doubt regarding a copyright's status comes up, it is always much better if you
can point to a copyright statement in the document which would have informed
any potential pilferer that it was indeed not public domain, and in some cases
the copyright holder's case can be looked upon in a better light if it's clear
that they were aware of the necessity for copyright and did what they could to
ensure it was properly specified in the first place.  And, of course, it can
help (if necessary) in those few places where international copyright law has
not yet found its way into local lawbooks.

> Dave Dixon
> >
> >Does anyone want to comment on whether &copy; is legal as a copyright 
> >signature?  It's well known that "(c)" isn't, for example.  What about 
> >&#169;?  

Just a note, this _was_ true some time ago, but it is now a myth.  "(C)" is
(under US law, and most other places) now considered a legal abbreviation of
"Copyright" for all intents and purposes, just like the c-circle mark is.
Given this and the much looser general copyright requirements now in place in
most places, I would venture that &copy; is probably also sufficient to note
an explicit copyright in most circumstances, though of course if you're really
concerned you should check specifically with lawyers in all of the nations you
are concerned about, as laws and interpretations always change from place to
place.

Of course in most situations it probably wouldn't hurt to explicitly spell out
the word "copyright" anyway..

-alex
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Alex Stewart - riche@crl.com - Richelieu @ Diversity University MOO
                         http://www.crl.com/~riche
           "For the world is hollow, and I have touched the sky."