Copyright Symbol

A copyright is a concept embodied in law under Title 17 of the US Code that protects the rights of the content creators. It gives authors and inventors a limited time to exclusive rights to what they create. The law defines eight categories of works that are eligible for copyright:

Literary works

  1. Contributions to collective works
  2. Musical works
  3. Sound recordings
  4. Dramatic works
  5. Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  6. Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  7. Multipart works
  8. Works published in machine-readable copies

Copyright protection is only granted when something appears in a “fixed and tangible” form. You can’t copyright an idea or concept. While you can own a work, you can’t own an idea. For example, if you wrote a book or movie script about Space Vampires, you could copyright the book or script so that someone else can’t sell it without your permission. However, you can’t copyright the idea itself.

What Is the Copyright Symbol?

A copyright symbol is used to show that someone owns the legal rights to make, use, and distribute particular works.

You’ll see a C inside a circle, which typically looks like © in print. A sound recording may have a P inside a circle — ℗ — but it will have a nearly identical meaning and purpose.

History of the Copyright Symbol

The copyright symbol was developed in accordance with the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention which said the copyright symbol must appear, along with the name of the copyright owner and the year the work was produced.

In 1989, however, the Copyright Act removed the need to post copyright notice. Rather than needing to display the copyright symbol and the identification information, it granted rights automatically.

Why Use a Copyright Symbol?

Many creators and inventors use the copyright symbol even if it’s not needed. It’s a way to deter potential copyright thieves from taking their works and reproducing them.

Another reason to use the copyright symbol is to make it easier for someone else to give credit to the copyright owner or ask for permission to use the material. Copyrighted material can be used if there is an agreement between the copyright owner and those wishing to use the material.

Do You Need to Use a Copyright Symbol?

Typically, works are automatically assumed to bestow copyrights on the creator as soon as something is made, so if you’re the creator you don’t need to use the copyright symbol. However, it can help demonstrate to others that you own the copyright.

There are also legal benefits for displaying the copyright symbol. By publicly acknowledging you own the copyright to something, you’re making it much more difficult for someone to say they unknowingly appropriated your work for their benefit. While there are exceptions to the use of copyright material, such as study, criticism, and other purposes defined as fair use, violating someone’s copyright can lead to significant financial penalties and even jail time.

Some copyright owners take an added step to protect their workers by registering their work with the US Copyright Office. Fees can range from $45 up to $800 depending on what’s being registered. Once registered, the copyright establishes that you are the legal owner of the work and formalizes the date of creation.

Registration also allows you to take legal action against another person that infringes on your copyright. Most jurisdictions will not entertain lawsuits for copyright infringement unless the work has been registered.

Internationally, the use of a copyright symbol may help enforce rights. Some foreign countries require the publication of a copyright notice to enforce rights. Nearly all websites contain copyright symbols and copyright notices for this reason since content can be accessed online from anywhere.

How to Use the Copyright Symbol

The US Copyright Office suggests the best way to display the copyright symbol for what it calls “visually perceptive copies” of works. This includes things that can read or seen, such as a book, website, or movie.

The copyright notice should include these three items in close proximity:

  • The copyright symbol (or the word “copyright” or the abbreviation, cited as “Copr.”)
  • The year of first publication
  • The name of the owner of the copyright

Example: © Alexis Parker 2021

Where Does the Copyright Symbol Go?

Because there is no longer any legal requirement to display the copyright symbol, copyright holders could actually display it anyways they want or use the word “copyright” instead. However, following convention and tradition in the use of the copyright symbol is more likely to focus attention on it and achieve its goal of protecting its owner’s work.

In printed works, the copyright notice should be easy to read and noticeable. In books, copyright notices can appear in several places, including:

  • The title page
  • The back page of a book’s title page
  • The first page following the main title
  • The back page

Typically, it’s in the first few pages of a book. In movies and video presentations, it’s more often shown at the end.

Online, copyright notices are typically listed at the bottom of the home page or in a footer that appears on each page. Website owners can also add a link to the copyright notice directing visitors to restrictions and how to contact copyright owners for permission.

In sound recordings, the symbol can be marked on a label that is affixed to the medium or any container that is being used. You may also see it listed in online mentions.

What Does “All Rights Reserved” Mean?

Besides the copyright symbol, you may also see the phrase All Rights Reserved. In the US, you are automatically granted the copyright, so your rights are already reserved. This is a throwback that dates back to a 1910 compact made internationally to protect global rights but was superseded by what’s called the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which grants automatic copyright internationally among its member nations (nearly 150 worldwide).

As such, All Rights Reserved has no legal consequence.

Copyright Symbol Resources

Copyright Fonts? No new copyright font is required.

Some people do not realise that with Copyright Symbol (the circle c), you do not need a specific copyright symbol font to make the circle with a c in it. It is different however, for the Phonograph Copyright Symbol (the circle-P symbol). The first part of this copyright webpage focuses purely on the how to display the © symbol. There is more information on the circle-p symbol further below.

  • Create an Copyright Symbol with your keyboard (Mac and PC)
  • Create a Copyright Symbol in HTML for your WebPage
  • Insert a Copyrite Symbol in Java, XML, XSL, etc..
  • Create a Copyright Symbol in LaTex

Typing the Copyright Symbol

You can type the copyright symbol yourself quite easily as is laid out below.  We have made it easy for just the simple requirements on how to insert copyright symbol.   If you don’t want to make your own copyright symbol, feel free to use any of the copyright symbol images that we have made for you below.  Either way, you should find something you want, if you are trying to put a copyright C on your photoshop image, your document, in your code, on your website etc.. etc..

How to make a copyright symbol from the keyboard for text documents:

How to make a Copyright C Symbol on a PC Keyboard  (©):

This should work for all PC keyboards when you need to type a copyright symbol. It should work on WYSIWYG html programs when you insert copyright symbols and of course any word processor where you need to make a copyright symbol with your keyboard from standard fonts installed.

Hold down Ctrl and Alt at the same time and press C                Ctrl+Alt+C

Hold down Alt and type 0169 on the number pad (right hand side of your keyboard)   Alt+0169

How to make a Copyright C Symbol on a Mac  (©):

This should work for all Mac keyboards when you need to type a copyright symbol.

Hold down Option at the same time and press ‘g’to get the copyright symbol.                Option+g

HTML Copyright Symbol (inserting the Copyright Symbol in HTML pages)

HTML supports special symbols that are not on your keyboard.

The special symbol code for the copyright symbol © on HTML is &copy.  

The code is defined by starting with a & (ampersand) and finishing with a ; (semicolon).

An example code using the special symbol name would be as follows.

<p> &copy; 2004 John Doe </p>

However, to ensure that there are no mishaps and you ALWAYS get the proper read from HTML documents, you should try to always use the  number code instead of the symbol code.   The number is &#169;

An example code using the special symbol number would be as follows.

<p> &#169; 2004 John Doe </p>

Unicode Copyright Symbol – Programmers, please NOTE:

Unicode is required by modern standards such as Java, XML, ECMAScript / JavaScript, CORBA, WML, LDAP etc.

Pretty much all of the questions about Copyright Symbols for standards that use Unicode will require the &#169 input. however, this may differ such as for XSL as listed below. We have tried to collate what we can for you – if you can’t work out the answer from here…keep on searching – and please write to us with any information that you think would be useful on this site.

Java Script / JSP Copyright Symbol

In Java use the unicode   &#169; or  &#xA9; to get the copyright symbol.  One common mistake is typing the © into the code, which will not work.

XML Copyright Symbol

In XML use the unicode   &#169; or  &#xA9; to get the copyright symbol.

XSL Copyright Symbol

If you were to use the ‘&copy’ entity with XSL, you may well come across the complaint of “Reference to undefined entity ‘copy’.”

In XSL always use &#xA9;

Texinfo Copyright Symbol:

In Texinfo, the copyright symbol needs an @-command. The command is followed by a pair of braces, `{}‘, without any space between the name of the command and the braces.


This will generate `(C)‘ in Info, and the © in a printed manual.

LaTex Copyright Symbol:

In LaTex, for the copyright symbol use the command       \copyright    (slash copyright)