What are the ℗ and © symbols and should I be using them on my CDs?

What? You’re still making physical CDs!? 🙂 If you do, you’ll want to know what the ℗ (circled capital P) and © (circled capital C) symbols mean. NOTE: Some fonts don’t have those characters.

What is the great mystery of the P?

If you guessed that ℗ stands for Publisher, you’d be… wrong. The P actually stands for “phonograph” and basically refers to the recorded sound on the CD. If you’ve read some of my other articles about the two major types of music copyrights (composition and sound recording), you probably already guessed that ℗ and the information after it tell us who owns the sound recording copyright.

What is the misleading meaning of the C?

What about the © symbol? If you guessed it means copyright, you’d be right. But what copyright? It doesn’t refer to the sound recording copyright because that is what the ℗ is for. Is it used for the composition copyright, then? Nope!

There are lots of different types of copyrights, and in this case the © that is on your CD and packaging material refers to who owns the copyright of the packaging itself, including stuff like the artwork and the text.

How do I use the P and C symbols?

As I understand it, you don’t technically need to have the P and C symbols on your packaging, but it is a good idea anyway to help protect your work and let others know who to contact for licensing and questions.

When you use the symbols, you should put the symbol, followed by the year of the copyright, followed by the corresponding copyright owner. For the copyright owner, you should use your name or the Record Label, or whoever holds the copyright. For example:

℗ 2017 Shepard Audio

© 2017 Isaac Shepard

Are there wrong ways to use the symbols?

Yeah, like the way I’ve been doing it for years… figures! 😉 Since neither of those symbols refer to the composition copyright, you wouldn’t list the Publisher as the owner. And I read somewhere recently that if you use the P and C together in one line, it can “invalidate” it… whatever that means. In other words, these types of usages seem to be wrong and invalid.

℗ & © 2017 Shepard Audio and Isaac Shepard

℗ & © 2017 Shepard Audio

℗ & © 2017 Isaac Shepard

So, it’s probably best if you list them separately like I showed you originally.

That’s it!

That about wraps it up regarding the mysterious P and C symbols. If you have some more helpful information about our circular friends, why not share it in the comments below?

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