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Should Your Website have a Copyright Notice?

You’ve likely visited a website or social media page, and noticed the copyright symbol along the footer, sidebar, photograph, graphic or blog post directly. Copyright notices are published in a variety of manners, but are they legal? Better question - should you be including a copyright notice on your website? Today we'll discuss everything you need to know with regard to including copyright notices on your site.

copyright notice

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection provided by U.S. law to authors of “original works of authorship.” This authorship can include written or artistic work (such as photography,  paintings or music).

When a work is published under the authority of the copyright owner, a notice of copyright may be included on all publicly distributed copies. These copyright notices are most commonly seen on printed publications, but have become more common on websites and online publications such as blogs or social media.

While the form of a copyright notice used for "visually perceptible" copies is different than that used for sound recordings, the intent behind the notice is the same - that the work is not copied without consequence. Using a copyright notice requires no legal permission form or registration with the U.S. Copyright Office, so theoretically, anyone could use one.

Do you have to give copyright notice?

Under U.S. law, nothing specifically states that you have to provide copyright notice. However, we highly recommend that you submit formal copyright and affix notice to your intellectual property for a variety of reasons.

For one, the legal ramifications are quite different for someone using a © without any actual form of copyright documented. Copyright notice without documentation is much like having a warning sign on the front of your home that says you have a security system, without actually having a security system in place.

While copyright notice may deter infringement of your intellectual property (others may see that notice as a barrier to just lifting your content), we find that many people will simply ignore the notice completely, especially if they know that there's no legal standing.

That said, a copyright notice on your website may help to elevate damages received should you choose to take legal action against an infringer.  And, since it has minimal monetary outlay (if any at all), we find that it can greatly reduce any copyright infringement discussions down the road.

What should you include in a Copyright Notice?

Your copyright notice should include the following:

  1. The word "copyright," and abbreviation or the symbol ©
  2. The year the work was first published or created.
  3. The name of the copyright owner or an abbreviation by which that person can be identified. This is typically the legal name rather than stage or pen name of the owner/author.

An example of this format looks like this: © 2021 Eldreth Law

Should you update these notices?

Much like the establishment of copyright, you don't have to do anything, but we do recommend that you update your notices on all websites to cover any content being published beyond your original date. For example, if your original copyright covers the period between 2010-2020, then you published something in 2021, your copyright notice no longer protects your newest content.

Protect Your Work and Hire a Copyright Attorney

If you're a creator and thinking about copyright for your site, consider hiring a copyright attorney. The right attorney will help you effectively protect your work and also help you think through some issues you may not have considered. Not sure where to start? Hire ELDRETH LAW FIRM | RALEIGH COPYRIGHT LAWYER. We have exactly the experience you need. For more information, call us.

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