How to Write a Copyright Statement for a Website

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Write a Copyright Statement for a Website

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

If you have created original content for your website, copyright law can protect it. Every website should include a brief statement identifying the copyright owner. Providing such a statement gives notice to visitors that your website belongs to you and that they cannot copy the content without your permission.

Woman at a desk looking at paperwork

Protecting your website's content does not require providing a copyright notice, but including one is a good idea, as it identifies you as the rightful copyright holder and may deter potential infringers. Follow these steps when writing a copyright statement for a website.

1. Decide on a form of copyright notice.

You can use any form of notice to identify copyright ownership in your website's content. Typically, a copyright statement uses either the © symbol, the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr," followed by the year you first made the content available to the public and the copyright owner's name (either your name or the name of the company that holds the copyright). Often, websites list a range of years (beginning with the year the owner first published the website) to account for changes in the website's content over time.

2. Choose a location for the copyright notice.

The location of the copyright notice is up to you. Generally, a copyright statement is sufficient as long as it is visible to an ordinary user of the website under normal conditions of use.

3. Provide additional information.

In your website's terms and conditions statement, you may provide additional information regarding how visitors to your site and third parties may use the materials on your site. For example, you may want to allow third parties to use and share your content as long as they identify you as the owner of the content or link back to your website.

If your website allows visitors to post information or add content to your site, you should also include a statement on your site or in your terms and conditions that visitors should not post content copyrighted by third parties. As the website's owner, you could face liability for infringing content that others post to your site.

4. Consider the DMCA.

You may also need to provide a statement that complies with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on your site. The DMCA applies copyright law to the digital world and provides specific requirements for website owners and certain remedies for copyright owners who believe their content has been stolen. The DMCA requires website owners to respond to requests from copyright owners to remove infringing material (called "takedown notices") and to remove any infringing content.

If you run a standalone website, e.g. one that isn't operated through another website host, your website's terms and conditions should include a statement regarding the DMCA. This statement should inform copyright owners that you will respond to takedown notices and remove any infringing content. This statement should also inform your website's users that they must own the rights to any content they make available through your website.

This statement should include the name and address for an authorized agent for your website that can receive any takedown notices, how you want to receive notifications if third parties believe your website has violated their copyrights, and an explanation of the information you would like from someone making a complaint.

5. Register your copyright.

Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not a necessity for protecting your website's content. Copyright protection is automatic for your work as soon as you create it. However, it is a good idea to register a copyright for your work, as registration provides additional legal rights and protections in the event of copyright infringement. Additionally, you must register your copyright to have the option to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

Keep these steps in mind when writing a statement of copyright intentions for your website. If you want to avoid potential legal implications of others violating your rights by stealing the contents of your website, you can simply register your copyright as noted above. Registration will provide you with the utmost protection over your website material, and will allow you to bring an infringement action if your rights are violated.

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.