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Re: Implied vs. explicit copyright

Don Armstrong <don@donarmstrong.com> writes:

> On Mon, 21 Jul 2003, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> > That's a nonofficial source.  But a brief web search will show you
> > that the same thing is repeated a gillion times.
> Everything I've read so far has claimed that (c) has no force of law,
> whereas c-in-a-circle does. However, I'm unaware of a court decision
> saying so one way or another. Non-legislative interpretations are
> nice, but it doesn't have weight like judicial precedent.

Of course, but the point is that the law is already very clear.  I
think the onus is one someone else to prove the contrary, given the
clear text of the law and the history of anal-retentive
interpretations of this particular sort of thing.

And anyhow, it's easy enough to just put "Copright" there.

> Futhermore, in the US, the only thing such an omission would do is
> effectively remove the copyright statement, not invalidate the
> copyright itself.

Right, but if there is no copyright statement, then there has been no
notice of copyright.

> I would not be surprised if you could make the claim that in systems
> where there is no equivalent of a c-in-a-circle, (c) fulfills the same
> role. I'd be genuinely surprised if most US courts didn't buy that
> argument as well. [I can't speak for other court systems, however.]

In general, such claims don't work, because of the whole point of the
statement: to have a single, unambiguous, bright-line test for what is
a valid copyright notice, so that no interpretation, guesswork, or the
like is necessary.  

> But as far as no notice goes, it still doesn't invalidate the
> copyright; it just means that a defendant in such a case can claim
> that they weren't aware of the copyright and avoid whatever the
> appropriate escalation of damages is.


> Now that we've gone through that, when you're copyrighting something,
> the smart money is on doing _both_. Use Copyright (c) 1997 Foo Bar
> Baz. Blah Blah Blah. Unless I've totally missunderstood the situtation
> at worst, (c) will be interpreted as a no-op, and the copyright
> statement will still control. At best, (c) will be equivalent to
> c-in-a-circle, and you're still at the same situation.

There is no harm for putting (c) down.  Just always say "Copyright". 

> Although I still wonder whether ascii art c-in-a-circle symbols are ok.
>  ___
> /   \
> | C | 1997 Foo Bar Baz. No Rights Reserved.
> \___/ 

Now, *that* might meet the terms of the statute.  Except that "No
Rights Reserved" would, in Pan-American-Copyright-Treaty cases, void
your copyright.


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