'© 2009' is definitely something I would consider as a paragraph, albeit with a strong flavour of ellipsis. It's really just a severely pruned version of this,
'The copyright of this document belongs to the entity which is elsewhere, implicitly or explicitly, associated with the document or web site, from the year 2009 and onwards.'
I feel like that is somewhat irrational. There is virtually no fragment that has no meaning and cannot be turned into a sentence in some form. "'© 2009" is not a sentence. It doesn't matter if you equate it to one.
An inline <span> cannot be an alternative to a block-level <p>. That's like wondering whether you should use a T-shirt or a wardrobe.
Furthermore, I completely understand this. I brought this thread up because, from w3schools' definition of the span element, I felt like this was the second use for span other than the obvious use that oddz brought to attention.
However, if HTML supplied a fragment element I would gladly use that instead. Gotta work with what you have.
I agree with you 100%. From w3schools' definition of span, I came to the decision that it's second usage was to mark up fragments. Apparently, that is not the case. However, I have a huge problem marking up a fragment as a paragraph. I'm going to have to side with Felgall that, for lack of a better element, a div with a class should be used.