Sound recording copyright symbol

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Sound recording copyright symbol
Different from

The sound recording copyright symbol, represented by the graphic symbol , is the copyright symbol used to provide notice of copyright in a sound recording (phonogram) embodied in a phonorecord (LPs, audiotapes, cassette tapes, compact discs, etc.).[1] Present in Europe since at least the mid-1960s, the use of the symbol in United States copyright law[2] after 1971 was codified at 17 U.S.C. § 402 and is specified internationally in the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms.[3]

The P-letter in stands for phonogram,[4][5] the legal term used in most English-speaking countries to refer to works known in U.S. copyright law as "sound recordings".[6]

A sound recording has a separate copyright that is distinct from that of the underlying work (usually a musical work, expressible in musical notation and written lyrics), if any. The sound recording copyright notice extends to a copyright for just the sound itself and will not apply to any other rendition or version, even if performed by the same artist(s).

US law[edit]

The symbol was introduced to the US in 1971, essentially simultaneously in both international treaty and domestic United States.

In the United States, it was added by Pub.L. 92–140, 85 Stat. 391, enacted October 15, 1971, which amended the 1909 Copyright Act by adding protection for sound recordings and prescribed a copyright notice for sound recordings:

(c) In section 19, title 17, of the United States Code, add the following at the end of the section: "In the case of reproductions of works specified in subsection (n) of section 5 of this title ["Sound recordings"], the notice shall consist of the symbol ℗ (the letter P in a circle), the year of first publication of the sound recording, and the name of the owner of copyright in the sound recording, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner: Provided, That if the producer of the sound recording is named on the labels or containers of the reproduction, and if no other name appears in conjunction with the notice, his name shall be considered a part of the notice.

In the United States, the sound recording copyright notice, which may only be affixed to a phonorecord, consists of three elements:

  1. the symbol;
  2. the year of first publication of the sound recording;
  3. an identification of the owner of the copyright, either by name, abbreviation or other designation by which it is generally known. The identification can be omitted if the owner is the sound recording's producer, and the producer is identified on associated packaging.[2]


The symbol has a code point in Unicode at U+2117 SOUND RECORDING COPYRIGHT, with the supplementary Unicode character property names, "published" and "phonorecord sign".[7] The similar glyphs (circled P) and (circled p) are not acceptable substitutes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Copyright Office Circular 3.
  2. ^ a b Act of Oct. 15, 1971, Pub. L. No. 92-140, 85 Stat. 391, § 1(c) § 402.
  3. ^ Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms, done at Geneva, October 19, 1971, Article 5.
  4. ^ Fishman, Stephen (2012). Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More. Nolo Press. p. 358. ISBN 9781413317213.
  5. ^ Lee, Robert E. (1995). A Copyright Guide for Authors. Kent Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780962710674.
  6. ^ Statement of Marybeth Peters, United States Register of Copyrights, before the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary (July 31, 2007).
  7. ^ Unicode, Inc. (2012). "Letterlike Symbols; Range: 2100-214F" (PDF). In Allen, Julie D.; et al. (eds.). The Unicode Standard, Version 6.1. ISBN 9781936213023. Retrieved July 20, 2012.