Should I Put a Copyright on my Website?

Maddox Marketing Co March 16, 2021

Yes! And here’s why you should:

  1. Legitimacy. First off, your site is legally protected under copyright law, but that tiny copyright symbol carries some added weight. It shows you mean business when it comes to protecting your website content. 
  2. Relevancy. Most people look at that tiny copyright date and assume that’s how current your business is. Having an older copyright might make your business seem out of date, or worse non-active or non-operational. This might make a person bounce from your website. An up-to-date copyright appears as if the business is still going strong!

What is copyright?

Copyright protects the rights of original works of authorship whether the work is published or not. Examples of original works of authorship can include literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic work (poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and photography). By law, when something is written down, drawn, photographed, etc., the author automatically owns its copyright. 

Copyright protection exists without registering your content, but if you ever find the need to file a copyright infringement case in a U.S. court, your content must first be registered. You can learn more about registering your copyright with U.S. government here.

What will having the copyright on my website do for me?

To put it simply, embedding the copyright into the footer on each page of your website will protect your rights as the owner of any content, logos, images, downloads, or basically anything else that can be found on your website. That tiny enclosed c symbol also serves as a visual reminder to site visitors that you take your content and your right to protect it seriously. 

Where should I place the copyright on my website?

It’s usually noted at the very bottom footer area of your website. Most people use this format: © YEAR, but occasionally people will also use the format © YEAR – YEAR to denote the length of time that the site has been published.

You can (and should) also address copyright, along with privacy, affiliate disclosures, and the terms and conditions of your site in a disclaimer page or legal page. 

Do I need to ever change or update the copyright year on my site?

At the beginning of each year, yes, it is recommended that you change the year — if there were changes to your site. The changes represent the most current version of your published work, and therefore the most current edition needing copyright protection.

Add an annual task reminder to change the copyright year each January. Or better yet, embed the code on your site so this automatically updates for you! Your web designer should be able to handle this pretty easily, or send me a quick note and I can add it for you! If you’re a DIY-er and know where to go to add the code, I’ve provided it below. 

Simple:
<p>Copyright &copy; <script>document.write(new Date().getFullYear())</script> Your Name All Rights Reserved</p>

Date range:
<p> Copyright &copy; 2014-<script>document.write(new Date().getFullYear())</script> Your Name All Rights Reserved</p>

DISCLAIMER: We always have to say that adding or changing code on your website (especially if you are uncertain how to do it properly) always has the risk of causing issues on a site, i.e. you might break it! Only make changes if you have a backup of the site and you feel comfortable knowing where to go and what you’re doing.

PRO TIP: If you haven’t updated your site in a year (so you’re not even worried about that copyright!) that’s an area to address as well! Keep your content, completed work portfolio, blog, and other pages fresh so your visitors will check back in for new information. Plus, as I mentioned above, an up-to-date copyright is an indicator of relevancy and/or stability to your site visitors. If that date hasn’t been changed, people may wrongly assume that your company is no longer active or in business.

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