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questions and answersThis post is part of the weekly Q&A section. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

Yuen asks:

What is the proper way of displaying a copyright message? That is, what year should I include, what rights and so on?

This is a question that I also had some four years ago, when I started publishing content online. I had noticed that all the mainstream websites had some kind of copyright message, so I felt that I needed one too, and I went on to research a bit.

The first thing that you need to know is that displaying a copyright message is NOT necessary to claim copyrights over something (it used to be, but not anymore). In most countries around the world (including the U.S.) copyright is given to the author as soon as he publishes his material publicly and in tangible form.

That being said, a copyright notice can be useful if you end up needing to protect your work in court, because it makes harder for the other party to claim ignorance over the copyright (called innocent infringement).

Finally, the correct form to display a copyright notice is the following:

Copyright 2004 Daniel Scocco

or

© 2004 DailyBlogTips.com

The first thing that you need is the word Copyright or the © symbol. After that you should include the year when the material was first published. Lastly you should include the name or the person or organization who holds the copyright.

Finally, if you are using a copyright notice on your website and you want to cover the date of publication of all your articles and pages, you could use a range (thanks Jordan for this reminder). For example:

© 2006-2009 DailyBlogTips.com


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About the author 

Daniel

Daniel Scocco is a programmer and entrepreneur located in São Paulo, Brazil. His first company, Online Profits, builds and manages websites in different niches. His second company, Kubic, specializes in developing mobile apps for the iOS and Android platforms.

  1. Great stuff!

    I have for years been trying to get the people here to stop mixing the words up and this blog has finally helped them see the light (that and having to point to pretty much every other site on the net that displays copyright messages) 😉

    However, I would like to add to the discussion (although a bit late) that there are some browsers that can’t display the copyright sign.

    So as a rule I now put Copyright ©Year Owner to cover my behind.

    Having looked further into this, there are those who suggest that you can’t put both but on the other hand I spoke to a lawyer who said as long as the format is correct you can have both the word AND the sign if appropriate.

  2. Daniel, can you or someone please help me? I would like to change the information, to be in concordance with what you suggested, but when I go to my WordPress, then Theme Editor, then Footer, there is absolutely no text “Copyright © Women’s Tennis Blog. All Rights Reserved.” even though it’s visible on my blog. Where do I go to change the text.

    Your advise is greatly appreciated!

  3. Great reminder. I use the date range on my site. Over the years many people have asked me (as a Web person, I’m not an attorney) if they should change the date each January. I blogged that one should not. Though if you use a date range such as 2005-2008 you can change 2008 to 2009 on the first day in 2009 that you add or modify content.

    For those of you who change the date, I’d recommend you pay close attention to Andrew Flusche’s comment (#5), “the important date for copyright purposes is when you first fixed the expression in a tangible format.” The copyright date should reflect the earliest date the material was created. It is not meant to show how current a site may be.

    To show the latter, I’d add a line such as “This page last updated on “Sept. 7, 2009.” In this scenario it would be perfectly appropriate to use a script that publishes a date based on the last edit.

  4. A very interesting answer, many would say that they want it displayed on their site to ensure that others can see it. I have displayed mine at the bottom of my site in the footer.

  5. I missed this part when I first blogging and then some people start to copy my ideas, etc. Now I’m become more protective where I put the copyright even for a single article. And of course – giving credits to others for their works that I use.

    Copyright is about appreciation. It’s not just about right but how appreciative you are to someone’s right.

  6. Great Daniel….
    I have put the copyright notice on my blog like this…
    All the stuff here is copyrighted by their creators.
    All articles/posts are copyrighted with nikhilmisal.com
    ©2009

  7. Thought I’d add a quick tip for creating the copyright symbol: if you type open bracket small c closed bracket (c) in Word it converts it to a copyright symbol 🙂

  8. @Daniel – True. Proving that you created something and when you created it is always a tough part of copyright battles. That’s why there’s no substitute for copyright registration.

  9. @Blake, images, logos and favicons and copyrighted as well, and linking back is not enough. You need to have explicit permission from the copyright owner to use the stuff.

  10. @Andrew, thanks for chiming in 🙂 .

    If you keep the thing locked with yourself, though, and someone else publish the very same thing publicly, it would be hard for you to prove your actually had a copyright over the material though, right?

  11. It’s good to know that in most cases as soon as you publish your stuff is considered copyright. I’ve noticed many wp themes already have the copyright coded into the footer. All the free ones offered on Daily Blog Tips have it (at least, all the ones I’ve looked at).

    Are images/logos/favicons copyright as soon as they are published as well? Is linking back to the original enough credit or should you cite more than just the webpage link?

    Blake

  12. I do the same as Oliver. When you use PHP it’s all in the simple code. But there is something to be said about also adding a warning to the copyright. Thanks for the good post.

  13. Very helpful post. When I write my copyright notice I use PHP code to display the current year, so the year will change automatically. Thanks for the post.

  14. Just a note: you might consider putting a year range if your blog’s been around for a little while, so you have the year-first-published covered for all your content.

    Also, if you code it into the footer of your site, it’s on all your pages (long, short, medium 😉 ). If you want it in your feed, you can add it to the .xml or, if you’re on FeedBurner, there’s a copyright Feed Flare you can add.

    (I’m not a lawyer, obviously, or I’d be charging you $150 for this.)

  15. I usually put the current year for the copyright. For some reason I have developed a habit of using that copyright year to tell whether the site is current. To support this, if you go to MSN.com or Google.com, they use 2009.

    For those needing to know how to do this automatically, you can use this PHP code:

    Copyright DailyBlogTips.com

    — OR —

    © DailyBlogTips.com

  16. Great Q&A, Daniel! I’ll be nit-picky with you, since that what us lawyers do. 🙂

    In the US, you don’t have to publish material to have copyright to it. All that is required is that you put creative expression in a fixed medium. You could keep it under lock and key, and you’ll still own the copyright.

    So the important date for copyright purposes is when you first fixed the expression in a tangible format. Having an idea for a book doesn’t cut it. You have to write it down (or make an audio recording, etc), and that is the day your copyright begins.

  17. I do have a copyright note on my blog as well as feeds. But what about those “long” pages that mny blogs have!

    Are they needed? Any advice Daniel?

  18. Sometime, I ignore that copyright. But on the other hand, I do not remove any credits (usually as links) by using someone property which is copyrighted. What’s about your idea, Daniel?

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