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Re: Implied vs. explicit copyright

Andrew Suffield <asuffield@debian.org> writes:

> So in brief, there is no basis in law for the statement that "(c) is
> not valid as a notice of copyright".

Sure there is.  The law says that the following are the only valid

C in a circle
The word "Copyright".
The abbreviation "Copr."

The law says that making mistakes in this area means there is not an
erroneous notice, but no notice at all.

> If your lawyer can't make a convincing argument in court that "(c)" is
> an acceptable alternative to the specified symbol, in a medium which
> cannot represent the official symbol, then find yourself a better
> lawyer.

Except that the medium does permit the symbol "Copyright", so that's
no good.

The effect of a notice is to increase damages for infringement and
eliminate one kind of defense.  The question is not "did you know it
was copyrighted", for which anything that communicates intent would be
good enough.  The question is much more rigid, it's "was there a valid

If the notice is erroneous, then it counts as a valid notice provided
it still communicates intent.

But if the notice is omitted, then it doesn't communicate intent.  And
the law is explicit that if it lacks all three of c-in-a-circle,
"Copyright", and "Copr.", then it is not merely erroneous, but
omitted.  (Similarly, the date must be correct within one year or the
notice is omitted [not just erroneous]; there is a list of such
things, for which any mistake means there is no notice, not just an
erroneous one.)

At best you can argue that (c) communicates intent: communicates the
information "this is coprighted".  But communicating that information
just isn't relevant to getting treble damages or defeating an
ignorance defense.  

So the law says, in no uncertain terms, that "Copywrite" (misspelled)
is not a valid notice, period.  Similarly, it gives no indication that
"(c)" means anything at all, and it says explicitly that the copyright
ID is a special magic token, any variation of which renders the notice
officially nonexistent.

So the moral is: put the word "Copyright" down, always.


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