At the beginning of each year, a lot of clients look to change the copyright date at the bottom of their website. There’s a consensus that this is beneficial for showing visitors that the website is current and relevant but this isn’t the best way to copyright your website content.
What is copyright?
Copyright is essentially the rights to your copy; it protects your rights as the owner of any content, logos, images etc etc., against theft. It lasts for 50-100 years from the owner’s death (depending on what it is)/
Copyright is given automatically, even if you don’t mark the work with the symbol/ the date of publication, and if you don’t you still have the same rights as someone who does.
However, having it on your website makes it clear that your work is protected by the law and that taking anything without your consent is an infringement on your rights.
If your work is still taken then you may need proof of your claim if you decide to legally pursue them for compensation – in which case the date on your website will come in useful!
Website copyright format
For those who don’t currently have copyright on their website, the general format for adding copyright (usually added to the footer of the site) is:
Copyright © [DATE]. [COMPANY NAME]. All rights reserved.
Some people don’t use the word copyright, just the international copyright symbol but it should always have a date and the company name (i.e. who owns the copyright).
And, ‘All rights reserved’ means the copyright holder reserves, or holds for its own use, all the rights, provided, by copyright law.
So, what date should you use in copyright?
The copyright notice is there to indicate the first date of publication for not only the website but for the content on the website – blogs, blurb, custom images etc. Therefore, the date shouldn’t be changed every year as this would change the ‘first publication’ date.
However, if you do want to make the website more current whilst still keeping copyright over previously published work, it’s better to use a copyright date range – i.e. the first published date to the current date – and, only update the current date yearly (or as new content is published). Example:
Copyright © [START DATE] – [CURRENT DATE]. [COMPANY NAME]. All rights reserved.
Further reading about copyright
If you’d like to learn more about the UK copyright legislation (the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988) then you can find out more by visiting the Intellectual Property Office website.