Database Guidelines 8. Release Date
8.1.1. "Released" refers to the exact or approximate date of release. The release date can be listed as the year, month and year, or the specific day of release, or left empty. For an exact date enter in the format "YYYY-MM-DD" (02-Sept 1997 would be 1997-09-02). For an approximate release date you may enter only the year (in four-digit format, YYYY) or year and month with "00" for the day (YYYY-MM-00). Approximate release dates or conflicting information can be placed in the release notes.
8.1.2. Usually, the latest copyright date that appears on the release is the one to use. If there is any doubt, consult other sources, and use common sense. Re-releases of older material sometimes do not have updated copyright dates on the packaging, but you should do your best to find the actual date of that release, not of the original recording. Be especially suspicious of CDs with copyright dates prior to 1984. Using the date of the original release is incorrect, but it is beneficial to add "Originally released in XXXX" to the Release Notes.
8.1.3. There are usually two copyright dates on a release. One is for the release itself, including the media and packaging and any visual artwork that appears on it, and this date is usually updated with each release. The other is for the sound recording that is being reproduced, and usually does not change. The sound recording copyright is designated by the circle-P (sound recording copyright / phonorecord / published) symbol, and the release copyright by the circle-C (copyright) symbol or the word "copyright".
8.1.4. Items can be submitted before the official street release date, but you must always have the physical copy in your possession when submitting.