The modern trend in copyright law has been to relax certain "formalities" that had the unfortunate effect of divesting all too many authors and owners of the ability to enforce their copyrights. Over the past decades, and consistent with international norms, Congress has amended the law to diminish the importance of formal requirements for copyright protection, such as having to publish a work with the proper copyright notice affixed. Any copyright owner who seeks to enforce his or her copyrights in court, however, must still satisfy specific legal requirements. While these requirements, for the most part, are not formalities per se, they all have the potential—much like the formalities of days gone by—to trap unwary copyright owners and preclude any meaningful copyright protection.
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