Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson

Patent & Trademark Attorney

Should I Copyright Notice My Website?

While the exact number of websites changes every second, there are well over 1 billion active sites at any given time.  If you’ve got a website, you should consider the possibility of an unauthorized user copying your photos, animation, or even text.  To help prevent this behavior, a copyright notice should be posted on your website when it is publicly available. Although not mandatory, the use of a copyright notice is free and can help to deter copying.

What is a copyright notice?

It’s a written notification informing the reader that a specific work is copyright protected and that you own the copyright. Okay, so then what’s a copyright? Copyrights protect artistic expressions captured in tangible form – newspaper articles, literature, blogs, music, podcasts, webinars, and movies. However, you cannot copyright work that is in the public domain – i.e., not owned by anyone.  For example, user-generated comments on your websites (such as comments and reviews) are owned by the users. Common non-original materials, such as familiar names, icons or symbols, are also not subject to copyright.

The Parts of a Copyright Notice

There are technical requirements regarding what a copyright notice should include. Specifically, the following 3 elements are required:

  1. 1. The copyright symbol © or the word “Copyright”
  2. 2. The year the website was published, and
  3. 3. The name of the copyright owner.

    These 3 elements do not have to appear in any specific order in the copyright notice, but are typically written “@ YEAR NAME.”

What is the Year of Publication?

The copyright notice must include the year the website was published.  What does that mean?  Typically, websites are considered published as soon as they launch and copyright notices should reflect that original date. However, if the website has been updated to include a considerable amount of new material, the year of publication should be updated to include the year the additional information was included.  For example, some websites will include a series of years – ©2019, 2018, 2016.

Who is the Copyright Owner?

The name of the copyright owner should be included in the copyright notice.  Typically, the owner is the person that created the website.  However, in less frequent circumstances, the copyright owner is the legal owner of a work made for hire, or the entity to whom the author’s copyright rights have been transferred.

The Correct Places to Include Copyright Notices

Most often, the copyright information is included at the bottom of the website home page. While only a single notification on the home page is required, you can include as many copyright notices as you wish – even one on each page is acceptable.   

Website designers frequently convert copyright information into a hyperlink. When users click on the hyperlink, they are sent to a page that defines copyright and other restrictions on the use of the site in more detail. Hyperlinks are not mandatory, but can help prevent violations by the public.

Remember that your website is automatically protected by U.S. copyright protections, despite whether or not it is formally registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. However, placing a copyright notice on your website is a clear signal to Internet users that you know your rights and intend to enforce them.

If you have questions or would like a free consultation please contact our office in Raleigh at (919) 576 7612 or in Wilmington at (910) 612-7027


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Intellectual property is often our clients’ most valuable asset and raises the most complex issues. Dogwood Law places emphasis on cost-effective counselling of clients. Whether you are just starting or have years of experience we can meet with you for a free consultation.

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