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What Year to Put On Your Website Copyright Notice

preparing to research what year to put on a website copyright notice

It’s a new year, and here’s a question I get asked a lot. And that question is, “What year should I put on my website copyright notice?” You know, that little copyright notice at the bottom of your website that says “copyright, blah, blah, blah?” Well, I’m going to give you the answer in this short post. And if you read through to the the end, I will give you the ONE exception for changing this general rule.

What’s in a copyright notice and why it’s important

So you’ve heard me say this before, but a copyright notice has three elements:

  1. The copyright symbol or the word copyright;
  2. The year that the creative work was published; and
  3. The owner.

A copyright notice is not a requirement for copyright protection (at least, not any more). But, if you don’t have one, an infringer could claim innocent infringement. And that’s a big deal, because it could drastically reduce the amount of money that they pay you for infringement, if it gets to that level.

What year to put at the bottom of your site

When was your website published? Well, if you’re constantly adding content to your website, by adding blog posts, by adding videos, then you have content on your website that could span a couple of years. So, what year should you put on your website copyright notice? A lot of times you will see a date range. So my website, for example, was first published in 2015. But I’ve added blog posts and videos for years and years since then. So if you scroll down to the bottom of this very page, you will see a date range at the end of my copyright notice.

The important exception to this rule

Now, the exception to this is: if you’re not adding new content to your website, or you haven’t added new content to your website since it was published. So if you have a brand new website that you’ve never added content to before, yeah, you would only have the one year: the year that the website was published. Otherwise, you are welcome to use that date range on your website from the date on which the website was originally published through the last date that you updated the content on your website.

One more thing…

All of this assumes that you actually own your website. Gotta look back at your contract with anyone that worked on your website to make sure. And if there wasn’t a contract, get your hands on my IP Rights Agreement Contract Kit™, stat!

IP Rights Agreement Contract Kit™

Why You Should Put a Copyright Notice on Your Blog or Website

By the end of this quick video you’re going to know why it’s important to put a copyright notice on your blog or website. You’ll also learn what a copyright notice means, when to use it, and what it prevents.

First, what goes in a copyright notice?

There are three elements to a proper notice.

1. The copyright symbol or the word “copyright”

2. The year of first publication of the copyrighted work

3. Is the name of the owner of the copyright.

You will see that on the bottom of websites, you will see it on the inside of albums, but for our purposes we’re talking about the bottom of websites and we’re talking about the show notes, maybe, for a podcast.

Q: When can you use the copyright symbol?

A: Any time.

You can use it once that copyrighted material escapes your brain and is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression…” That’s fancy lawyer speak for living outside of your head and written out on paper. It’s a protectable, copyrighted work long as it’s recorded or put somewhere that others can see and experience it. (Even if that “other” is just you.)

You don’t have to have your work registered with the Copyright Office in order to use that © symbol or the copyright notice.

Is putting a copyright notice on my website that important?

It used to be required in order to have copyright protection! Nowadays, that’s not the case. You still have protection regardless of whether you publish something with a proper notice.

HOWEVER, if you don’t have a copyright notice, then an infringer could claim “innocent infringement.”

That comes into play and is a big deal because you’ve heard me talk about statutory damages as a benefit of copyright registration, right? Those big money damages, and the right to get your attorneys’ fees, those are reserved only for works that are registered with the Copyright Office.

If someone can claim innocent infringement, then their monetary liability — the amount of money they’re required to pay you for infringement — is knocked down drastically.

So, we want to avoid anyone claiming innocent infringement. Use that copyright notice, it’s not hard.

Remember: copyright symbol, year of publication, owner.

And remember that you don’t have to have a registration in order to use that notice.

So I hope that helps you understand when, where, and why to use a copyright notice on your blog or website.


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