How Should I Display My Copyright on a Website?

We’re often asked how to properly display a copyright message on a website that doesn’t hurt your Search Engine Optimization. The major content publishing sites all post some sort of copyright message in the footer of their websites, so how should your business go about marking your unique content as copyrighted? In this post, we share acceptable ways to display copyright on a site, and tell you how to set the copyright year to update automatically.

Before we dig into acceptable ways for displaying that trusty © symbol on your site, there’s one surprising thing you should know — displaying a copyright notice on your site is unnecessary. The U.S. Copyright Office offers its “protection the moment [a work] is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” What does that mean? It means that from the moment you publish a page or blog post on your site, it’s automatically protected by copyright, regardless if there is a “©” somewhere on the page.

The Copyright Office does, however, recommend registration (even on websites) if you should require protection in a court of law. The registration of your copyright makes it more difficult for the infringing party to claim innocence.

* A quick note on legal advice

This goes without saying, but this blog post (or any blog post for that matter), should not substitute for the advice of your attorney. If you’re in doubt or have more detailed questions about your own work, we recommend that you consult a lawyer.

How to Display Copyright on a Website

There are four ways to display your copyright on your website. Below, we use our company as an example:

  • Copyright 2019 Southern Web, LLC
  • Copyright 2005-2019 Southern Web, LLC
  • © 2019 Southern Web, LLC
  • © 2005-2019 Southern Web, LLC

And here are a few stylistic rules to keep in mind:

  1. Use the “Copyright” or ©, but you needn’t use both.
  2. There is no period between the date and the organization/person who claims the copyright.
  3. If your website contains material that was created in previous years, you may want to opt to use a date range in the copyright notice.

Automatically Updating Footer Copyright Year

Ever come across a site and notice that the footer’s copyright year is from several years ago? It may lead you to question whether the site is operational or speculate on the company’s professionalism. Being careless with this detail is kind of like walking into an important client meeting with a partially unzipped fly — not the end of the world, but yikes, embarrassing.

That said, who wants to worry about such a small detail every January 1? Especially when we have technology capable of doing that labor for us!

Ready to take out the annual labor of updating the static copyright year in the footer of your site? You have several options! There are technically plugins that can accomplish this for you, but our preferred method is to simply add a small PHP snippet into your site’s footer.php file. You can also accomplish the same thing using a Javascript snippet. This is an easy request for your developer, but if you’re more of a DIYer, check out UpdateYourFooter.com for the exact PHP and Javascript snippets that will automatically update your copyright year.


Have more questions?

Whether you need development assistance or are curious about other website best practices, we’re here to answer your questions. Contact us today!



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