How to Copyright Your Entire Blog

By Lee Hall, J.D.

How to Copyright Your Entire Blog

By Lee Hall, J.D.

Many people don't mind sharing their knowledge on websites and blogs. But, most people don't want their blog entries used on another website without permission or proper attribution. Copyright law can protect your blog entries and even your full website.

Woman smiling in front of camera and laptop

Let's review the process of copyright registration and protection in general for online works.

Step 1. Register your copyright for blog entries.

Register blogged writings as literary works. Note that copyright in your work already belongs to you. The Register of Copyrights simply provides you with the statutory basis to sue in court for damages over copyright infringement.

To register, you may mail in the application form, your information, and a disc with all of your blog pages; but, for a lower fee, submit your registration form and material to the Copyright Office online. The "eCO" system on Coyright.gov helps you submit the content of every page you intend to copyright by facilitating the uploading of your pages in HTML format. You may copyright your entire blog at once.

Step 2. Consider protecting your site's name and other pages.

Your blog entries themselves may contain both literary work (text) and visual work (such as a logo, your photographs, or original art and infographics).

In addition to registering these works, or while registration is pending on new material, website owners may superimpose watermarks on visible content, identifying the source of the materials.

Step 3. Check your copyright every quarter.

Copyrighting a blog takes dedication and diligence. As registration covers what already exists, not ideas or future work, updates require a string of filings (to register the new and updated works only). How is this worth the time and fees? If you register your blog entries, you could obtain significant statutory damages, and potentially have your attorneys' fees covered under the law.

In addition, responsible website owners develop several effective habits to protect their intellectual property online.

Step 4. Have a copyright policy on your blog.

Whether or not you plan to file for registration, convey a clear claim of copyright in your work. State the owner's name, the word "copyright," the publication year(s), and "all rights reserved" in your notice. You may also include the copyright symbol, a "C" in a circle. Put visitors on notice that copyright protects your materials. Your notice makes it difficult for someone to claim the unauthorized use is innocent.

Leading blogging platform WordPress.com recommends strictly prohibiting unauthorized copying or use without the site owner's written permission, yet specifying that the visitor may use links or linked excerpts with clear, complete credit. (Should you wish to enable sharing of your work with proper attribution, consider special licensing features such as those supplied by Creative Commons.)

WordPress.com further suggests placing a copyright notice in the sidebar (not the footer). This positioning puts readers on notice at all times. Partial screenshots of your site include the sidebar.

Step 5. Run regular searches and enforce your rights.

One day, you might run a search or implement an automatic monitor to scan the web for your work and find any unauthorized use. Whether or not the use violates a registered copyright, you may:

  • Send an email to the website and ask the owner to remove the material.
  • Send a cease-and-desist letter. Identify the copied material, including any links, snippets, or summaries. For registered content, state the pertinent copyright registration number. Allow 72 hours for removal.
  • Go to federal court. Ask for a judicial order to stop the offending use and to receive attorney fees and statutory damages if the court deems these measures appropriate. If you think you have a case for infringement, act promptly.

Protect yourself from claims of infringement, too. If you provide hosting or web directory services, designate an agent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to benefit from "safe harbor" provisions that preclude fines should you face any takedown requests.

The internet works best when users respect each other's intellectual property. Know and use the legal tools to ensure proper conduct. Enforce your rights.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.