drewcoul: how you can claim copyright protection on something that doesn't have a copyright. And what makes it a good idea if its not necessary?
You're confusing a copyright notice with ownership rights. I understand that copyrights are confusing. Also, the law varies from country to country. In the last few decades the trend has been toward an internationally consistent set of laws.
Here's a link to some information concerning US Copyright law from the US Copyright Office:
Here are a few relevant excerpts from that article:
What Is Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
• reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
• prepare derivative works based upon the work
• distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
• perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
• display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
• perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings*) by means of a digital audio transmission
How to Secure a Copyright
Copyright Secured Automatically upon Creation
The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequentlymisunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is “created” when it is fixed in a copy.
Notice of Copyright
The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works. - [Emphasis added]
Notice was required under the 1976 Copyright Act. This requirement was eliminated when the United States adhered to the Berne Convention, effective March 1, 1989.
Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504(c)(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected. - [Emphasis added]
Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies
The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:
1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”; and
2. The year of first publication of the work. In the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and
3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.
Example: © 2011 John Doe
Again, I'm not sure that copyright law would apply to an internal document such as a business letter. That seems to be a stretch. It wouldn't be the first time the WTBTS tried to make such a claim.
They're bullies. Bullies gotta' bully!