What happens if there is an error in the copyright notice?
When a copyright notice is not included on a published work, this is known as an “omission of notice.” An omission of notice, for any work created or published after March 1, 1989, does not affect your ability to protect the work and you do not need to fix the omission, although it is a good idea to do so.
There are also certain errors which are treated as an omission of notice - in other words, if one of these errors is made to a copyright notice, the work is treated as if there were no copyright notice at all. These errors include: (i) failing to include “Copyright,” “Copr.” or the (c) symbol in the notice (or failing to include (P) symbol in the notice for a sound recording phonorecord); (ii) where the copyright notice does not include the date of publication; (iii) using a date in the copyright notice which is one year or more later than when the work was actually first published; and (iv) where the copyright notice does not include the author’s name. Again, these errors do not need to be fixed, although they should be – if they are not, the work is simply treated as having no notice.
Where a copyright notice includes a wrong year that is actually before the year when the work was actually first published, this only becomes a problem for copyright protection which depends on the date of first publication (for example, as with a work made for hire). In such a case, the term of protection may start as of the noticed date, rather than as of the actual date of first publication (meaning the protection will run out sooner than it otherwise would, since the clock starts ticking earlier).
Finally, if the copyright notice names a person who is not the actual copyright owner, the error can be fixed by either: (i) re-registering the work with the true owner’s name; or (ii) filing a document with the Copyright Office, which must be signed by both the person erroneously named on the copyright notice and the actual author.