Copyright your website content the right way

Copyright your website content the right way[ 4 min read ]

When to change your website copyright date

At the beginning of each year, a lot of clients look to change the copyright date at the bottom of their website. And I’ve seen some wrong advice online; there’s a consensus that says this is beneficial for showing visitors the website is current and relevant but this isn’t the best way to copyright your website content and isn’t what copyright is for.

So, 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.
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. It will last for 50-100 years from the owner’s death (depending on what it is being copyrighted).
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! There are also tools that can prove that it was on older copies of the website.

Official copyright date meaning

The date you use as the ‘copyright date’ should be the date that the material was originally published or released. Meaning that that is when you want the copyright to run from – that is the date that the protection starts.

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 or individual’s name (i.e. who owns the copyright).
And, the term ‘All rights reserved’ means the copyright holder reserves, or holds for its own use, all the rights, provided, by international copyright law.

You may also want to include a statement such as:
“For requests to use this copyright-protected work in any manner, email” – especially if your work is likely to be used on news websites or on social media and you’d like to be paid for that use.

If you release the work under license, for example Creative Commons License (CC License), you may also wish to state that and provide the license.

What date should you use in copyright on your website?

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.

Sometimes, the ‘current date’ part can be automated on websites (depending on your website builder) so you don’t have to update it all the time.

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 or the UK Government’s website.

What if my WordPress theme does not let me change the date?

Some WordPress themes have the date hard-coded, or worse… hard-coded to auto-update. If this is the case for you, then it’ll need a developer to re-write the code.
To get around this, you may want to put a secondary copyright notice on the page, or get in touch with us here at The Smart Bear to see if we can help you.

This blog was first published on January 10, 2018 but has since been updated.

Suzi Smart Bear

I'm Suzi - the owner of The Smart Bear.

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