I am writing a paper for school and while I won't get in trouble for forgetting the copyright symbol I am interested in the use of it in case I need it on a more professional basis.

I am currently writing a paper and in my paper I have made reference to the programming languages Java, Python, C, and a few others. Am I required to have a copyright symbol or something similar if it were to be professionally published? Or would it not be required? If someone could explain why or why not it's needed that would be greatly appreciated. I am interested in case I find myself writing a more formal paper in which I would require that knowledge.

  • copyrightlaws.com/copyright-symbol-notice-year
    – michael.hor257k
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 22:34
  • The symbol used is almost certainly not copyright © but rather that for a trademark ™, registered trademark ® or maybe a "service mark" ℠. However, this is not a question of the English language but about the law regarding the use of or reference to names owned by others. I think this is best asked on Law; it will almost certainly need your country name added. Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 22:34
  • I actually think it would be best on Acadamia - they're asking about a paper to be published.
    – D M
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


The Copyright symbol © is used pretty much only in a copyriht notice. It is not used after the names of copyrighted works are mentioned. Even there, at least under US law, the word "copyright" is the exact legal equivalent and the symbol is never really needed. The notices:

Copyright 2016 J Random Author

© 2016 J Random Author

Copyright © 2016 by J Random Author, all rights reserved.

Are all legally exactly the same, and have the exact same effect. The symbol will be understood internationally.

The trademark or service mark symbols ( ™, ®, or ℠) are used to indicate that a name is a trademark, and others should respect it as such. The trademark owner will be particularly inclined to do this, as the owner wants to put others on notice that the mark is protected. Others use it to indicate that they know that the name is protected as a mark, and to let readers know. But it is not legally required that anyone use these symbols. Some style guides recommend or require them. If they are to be used, I would use them only on first reference for a given name, unless a style guide for the project or publication says otherwise.


Ultimately, it would probably come down to the style guide. But I'm not aware of any style guides that would require you to use a copyright (or trademark) symbol.

For example, the APA blog says this (as part of a longer discussion on citing software):

The Publication Manual specifies that a reference is not necessary for “standard software.” What is “standard”? Examples are Microsoft Word, Java, and Adobe Photoshop. Even less ubiquitous software, like SPSS or SAS, does not need to be referenced.

Note: We don’t keep a comprehensive list of what programs are “standard.” You make the call.

In your text, if you mention a program, do include the version number of the software. For example, “We asked participants to type their responses in a Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, Version 14.0.7128.5000) file.”

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