Copyright symbol

Copyright symbol

Copyright symbol
apostrophe ( ’ ' )
brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dash ( , –, —, ― )
ellipsis ( …, ..., . . . )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( )
hyphen-minus ( - )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ”, ' ', " " )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/stroke ( / )
solidus ( )
Word dividers
space ( ) ( ) ( ) (␠) (␢) (␣)
interpunct ( · )
General typography
ampersand ( & )
at sign ( @ )
asterisk ( * )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( )
caret ( ^ )
copyright symbol ( © )
dagger ( †, ‡ )
degree ( ° )
ditto mark ( )
inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
inverted question mark ( ¿ )
number sign/pound/hash ( # )
numero sign ( )
obelus ( ÷ )
ordinal indicator ( º, ª )
percent etc. ( %, ‰, )
pilcrow ( )
prime ( ′, ″, ‴ )
registered trademark ( ® )
section sign ( § )
service mark ( )
sound recording copyright ( )
tilde ( ~ )
trademark ( )
underscore/understrike ( _ )
vertical/broken bar, pipe ( ¦, | )
currency (generic) ( ¤ )
currency (specific)
( ฿ ¢ $ ƒ £ ¥ )
Uncommon typography
asterism ( )
tee ( )
up tack ( )
index/fist ( )
therefore sign ( )
because sign ( )
interrobang ( )
irony & sarcasm punctuation ( )
lozenge ( )
reference mark ( )
tie ( )
diacritical marks
whitespace characters
non-English quotation style ( « », „ ” )
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The copyright symbol, or copyright sign, designated by © (a circled "C"), is the symbol used in copyright notices for works other than sound recordings (which are indicated with the symbol). The use of the symbol is described in United States copyright law,[1] and, internationally, by the Universal Copyright Convention.[2] The C stands for copyright.



The copyright symbol was introduced in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1909, section 18.[3]

The copyright notice required by the U.S. Copyright Acts used to be a prescribed, lengthy formula: "Entered according to act of Congress, in the year         , by A. B., in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington." In general, this notice had to appear on the copyrighted work itself, but in the case of a "work of the fine arts", such as a painting, it could instead be inscribed "on the face of the substance on which [the work of art] shall be mounted".[4] The Copyright Act was amended in 1874 to allow a much shortened notice: "Copyright, 18        , by A. B."[5]

The Copyright Act of 1909 was meant to be a complete rewrite and overhaul of existing copyright law. As originally proposed in the draft of the bill, copyright protection required putting the word "copyright" or a sanctioned abbreviation on the work of art itself, also for paintings, the argument being that the frame was detachable. In conference sessions among copyright stakeholders on the proposed bill, conducted in 1905 and 1906, representatives of artist organizations objected to this requirement, wishing to put no more on the work itself than the artist's name. As a compromise, the possibility was created to add a relatively unintrusive mark, the letter C within a circle, to appear on the work itself next to the artist's name, indicating the existence of a more elaborate copyright notice elsewhere that was still to be allowed to be placed on the mounting.[6] Indeed, the version of the bill that was submitted to Congress in 1906, compiled by the Copyright Commission under the direction of the Librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam, contained a provision that a special copyright symbol, the letter C inclosed within a circle, could be used instead of the word "copyright" or the abbreviation "copr.", but only for a limited category of copyrightable works, including works of art but not ordinary books or periodicals.[7] The formulation of the 1906 Act was left unchanged when it was incorporated in 1946 as title 17 of the United States Code; when that title was amended in 1954, the symbol © was allowed as an alternative to "Copyright" or "Copr." in all copyright notices.[8]

Prior symbols indicating a work's copyright status are seen in Scottish almanacs of the 1670s; books included a printed copy of the local coat-of-arms to indicate their authenticity.[9]

In countries party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, a copyright notice is not required to be displayed in order for copyright to be established; rather, the creation of the work automatically establishes copyright.[10]

US copyright notice

In the United States, the copyright notice consists of:

  • the © symbol, or the word "Copyright" or abbreviation "Copr.";
  • the year of first publication of the copyrighted work; and
  • an identification of the owner of the copyright, either by name, abbreviation, or other designation by which it is generally known.


© 2011 John Smith

The notice was once required in order to receive copyright protection in the United States, but in countries respecting the Berne convention this is no longer the case. The United States joined the Berne Convention in 1988.[10]

Digital representation

Because the © symbol has long been unavailable on typewriters and ASCII-based computer systems, it has been common to approximate this symbol with the characters (C).

The character is mapped in Unicode as U+00A9 © copyright sign (HTML: © ©).[11] Unicode also has U+24B8 circled latin capital letter c (HTML: Ⓒ ) and U+24D2 circled latin small letter c (HTML: ⓒ ).[12] They are sometimes used as a substitute copyright symbol where the actual copyright symbol is not available in the font or in the character set, for example, in some Korean code pages.

On Windows it may be entered by means of Alt codes, by holding the Alt key while typing the numbers 0169 on the numeric keypad.

Related symbols

  • The sound recording copyright symbol is the symbol (the capital letter P enclosed by a circle), and is used to designate copyright in a sound recording.[13]
  • The copyleft symbol is a backwards C in a circle (copyright symbol © mirrored). Because it is unavailable on Unicode, it can be approximated with character U+2184 latin small letter reversed c between parenthesis (ↄ) or, if supported by the application, by combining it with the character U+20DD combining enclosing circle ↄ⃝.[14] It has no legal meaning.[15]
  • The registered trademark symbol is the symbol ® (the capital letter R enclosed by a circle), and is used in some jurisdictions to designate a trademark that has been registered in an official office of record (such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the United States).
  • The non-obligatory symbol used in a mask work protection notice is Ⓜ (M enclosed in a circle.)
  • In Japan, Ⓧ is used too.

See also


  1. ^ 17 U.S.C. § 401
  2. ^ Universal Copyright Convention, Article III, §1. (Paris text, July 24, 1971.)
  3. ^ Copyright Act of 1909, §18.
  4. ^ Copyright Act of 1870, §97.
  5. ^ 1874 Amendment to the Copyright Act of 1870, §1.
  6. ^ Arguments before the Committees on Patents of the Senate and House of Representatives, conjointly, on the bills S. 6330 and H.R. 19853, to amend and consolidate the acts respecting copyright. June 6–9, 1906. Government Printing Office. 1906. p. 68. 
  7. ^ "Proposed Copyright Legislation". The Writer XVIII (6): 87. June 1906. 
  8. ^ Public Law 743—August 31, 1954. 68 Stat. 102.
  9. ^ Mann, Alastair J.; Kretschmer, Martin, Bently, Lionel (2010). "A Mongrel of Early Modern Copyright". In Deazley, Ronan. Privilege and property: essays on the history of copyright. Open Book Publishers. ISBN 9781906924188. 
  10. ^ a b Molotsky, Irvin (October 21, 1988). "Senate Approves Joining Copyright Convention". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Stephen Fishman (2010), "The Copyright Symbol", The Public Domain, p. 356, ISBN 9781413312058, 
  14. ^ "Unicode copyleft inquiry". 
  15. ^ Hall, G. Brent (2008). Open Source Approaches in Spatial Data Handling. Springer. p. 29. ISBN 354074830X.  Additional ISBN 9783540748304. See Open Source Approaches in Spatial Data Handling at Google Books, page 29.

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