Need Assistance with a Copyright?
Gerben Law can assist with your copyright matter. We are happy to provide a complimentary consultation.
You are not required to hire a copyright attorney to manage your filing, but it is highly recommended. When protecting intellectual property through registration, it’s best to partner with an experienced attorney who can walk through the legal decisions that need to be made. Once your copyright has been registered, you will need to monitor the use of your content and take action against potential copyright infringement. Having an existing relationship with an attorney will allow you to take the necessary action quickly. In many cases, a cease-and-desist letter drafted by your attorney is enough to put the infringer on notice, but in other instances, your attorney may recommend more formal legal action.
Submit a Copyright Application
The U.S. Copyright Office does not have a specific application for websites. While websites can certainly receive copyright protections, as mentioned above, the Copyright Office asks that you determine the “predominant authorship,” whether a literary work, a work of visual art, or a work of performing arts. Then, you can submit the appropriate application. Work with your attorney to determine which application type best fits the content of your website.
A copyright application can be submitted online, directly through the U.S. Copyright Office site, or it can be submitted through a paper application. Online applications are typically processed faster than those mailed into the Copyright Office. You will also be able to submit a digital copy of the work you wish to copyright when you register online. Applicants using a mail-in application will need to include a hard-copy. It’s important to note that your work will not be returned to you after your application has been processed and that your work will become part of the public record. In some cases, the Library of Congress may ask for a hard-copy “best edition” of the work, even if you’ve filed online. If you are asked to submit a hard-copy to the Library of Congress, refer to the information on their site concerning the requirements for submitting your “best edition.”
Add a Copyright Notice to Your Site
A copyright notice is a written notice stating your work is protected by copyright. Including a copyright notice on your website isn’t mandatory, but it does have benefits. Because your website is easily accessible to the public online, it is far too easy for a person to simply cut and paste content, stealing photos and text from your site for their own use. While a copyright notice will not deter everyone from using your content without permission, it can be all the public notice needed to deter most people from infringing on your work. Including a copyright notice on your site may also help with future legal action against infringement, as infringers will not be able to argue that the copyright status of the material was unknown.
It is recommended that you add a copyright notice to each page of your site. An effective copyright notice does have some strict requirements, and must include the following, in any order:
- The copyright symbol, ©, or the words “Copyright”
- The name of the copyright owner
- The year of publication
Copyright Your Site
If you are a business owner or a blogger wondering how to protect the content on your website, consider obtaining copyright. Although an official copyright through the U.S. Copyright Office is not required to protect your site from infringement, it will greatly increase the effectiveness of your legal claim. First, determine who owns the content, and sign an agreement with a third-party creator, if necessary. Next, learn what can and cannot be copyrighted on your site. Partner with an experienced attorney to draft and submit your application to the U.S. Copyright Office, and then include a copyright notice on every page of your website. These steps will help to protect your website and your business from infringement.