Have you ever wondered how to protect your hard work from being stolen or misused? If so, you’re in the right place. I’m going to walk you through the ins and outs of creating a copyright notice for your blog or website.
Stick around, because not only will I break down what a copyright notice is and why you need one, but I’ll also provide you with a free copyright notice template that you can use over and over again for any content you create.
But before we begin, please bear in mind that although I have worked as a lawyer specializing in International and EU Law (LLB, LLM, PhD) for over 15 years and helped more than 30,000 bloggers and online entrepreneurs create their blog legal pages and policies with my plug-and-play legal templates, this article is meant for educational and informational purposes only.
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If you’re in a rush at the moment, don’t sweat it! You can always download this post as a PDF and come back to these tips on how to write a copyright notice for your blog or website later.
What is a Copyright Notice?
A copyright notice is a statement that informs the public that a particular piece of work is protected under copyright law.
It’s a way for you as the creator and copyright holder to assert your legal rights over your original work, making it clear that others cannot use, reproduce, or distribute it without permission.
This isn’t just a legal formality; it’s a powerful tool that adds legitimacy to your ownership and acts as a deterrent against content theft.
What Can Be Copyrighted?
You can’t copyright an idea, but you can copyright the expression of that idea in a tangible format.
So any creative work that is in a tangible medium can have copyright protection. This includes original material such as music, articles, books, graphics, photos, visual works, audio recording, videos, literary works, sculptural work, website content, mobile apps, and, of course, blog posts.
This is not an exhaustive list of the types of works that can be copyrighted as most forms of intellectual property can have copyright protection.
Why Do You Need a Copyright Notice for Your Blog or Website?
You would benefit from having a copyright notice in several ways.
Asserting Your Legal Rights
A copyright notice is your way of asserting your legal rights over your original work. It makes it clear that others cannot use, reproduce, distribute your content, or produce derivative work from it without your permission.
Even though copyright is inherent, having a copyright notice on your blog or website is like putting up a “No Trespassing” sign. It’s a friendly (or not-so-friendly) reminder to everyone that they can’t just take your original work and use it as their own. As a general rule, unless you state otherwise, you have the exclusive right to your work.
Simplifying Legal Enforcement
Think of a copyright notice as a shield. A notice of copyright is not just a legal formality; it’s a powerful tool. It adds legitimacy to your ownership, acts as a deterrent for those who may want to steal your content, and might even give you more legal protection.
Having a copyright notice can make it easier to enforce your rights legally. It acts as a public warning, reducing the likelihood that someone could claim ignorance as a defense for infringing on your copyright.
What Happens If You Don’t Have One?
What happens if you don’t have a copyright notice?
Does it mean that all those fantastic blog posts, ebooks, courses, printables, freebies you’ve been creating are not protected?
Good news! The moment you create original content, you automatically own the copyright. You don’t need to fill out any forms or register anything. However, not having a copyright notice can make legal enforcement more challenging.
The “I Didn’t Know” Defense and Innocent Infringement
A copyright notice acts as a warning to the general public. Without an existing copyright notice, infringers might claim ignorance, meaning they could argue that they didn’t know the content was copyrighted as they didn’t receive a reasonable notice of the claim of copyright.
This “I didn’t know” defense might not always work, but it can make protecting your rights a bit more complicated.
Benefits of Copyright Registration
If you’re in a country like the United States, where under the copyright act, you can register your copyright with the U.S. copyright office, you might want to consider doing that. It’s like adding an extra layer of protection, giving you the right, under U.S. copyright law, to sue if someone tries to steal your copyrighted work.
Plus, registering your copyright can provide additional legal benefits under U.S. law. One of these benefits is eligibility for statutory damages in a copyright infringement case.
Statutory damages are a type of compensation set by law, rather than calculated based on actual harm.
Which means that if you win a copyright infringement lawsuit, statutory damages can provide a predetermined amount of money, instead of having to prove specific financial loss from the infringement on your copyright-protected work.
How to Create a Proper Copyright Notice
Creating a copyright notice is straightforward.
A valid notice typically includes the following elements which are essential:
The Copyright Symbol or Word: You can use either the copyright symbol which is the letter C with a circle around it © or the word “Copyright”. Either one is fine.
Then you will have the copyright date: this is the year when the work was first made available to the public. Or if your blog or website includes content that spans over a few years, instead of the year of first publication you can have a date range. For example, Copyright 2017 – 2023 which is from the first year of publication to the current year.
So, as a side note, remember every new year in January to update the copyright notice on your blog or website to the current year, or if possible, set up WordPress to update it every year automatically so that your web content and online works are always copyright-protected.
The next element you need to include in the copyright notice is the Name of the Copyright Owner: This could be the individual creator, a company, or another entity that wants to claim copyright ownership of the original work. So, it can be your name, or the name of your company or your blog.
Next, you’ll have the Rights Statement: for example, all rights reserved or some reserved. If you want to reserve all your rights, technically this statement would be a bit redundant because you automatically have the rights to the material you create, however, for clarity and deterrence I would still add “All right reserved worldwide” so that everyone knows they cannot use your content in any form or way without your permission.
To summarize, a valid copyright notice typically includes the following information:
- The Copyright Symbol or Word: Either the © symbol or the word “Copyright.”
- Year of First Publication or Range of Years: The year the work was first made public.
- Name of the Owner of the Copyright: This could be you, your company, or your blog.
- Statement of Ownership Rights: Usually, “All rights reserved.”
For example, if your blog is called “My Amazing Life” and you started in 2020, your website copyright notice would read as
© My Amazing Life, 2020-2023, All rights reserved.
But here is where things get really interesting. In addition to this simple copyright notice, I recommend that you also have a copyright statement.
The Importance of a Copyright Statement
A copyright statement is like a detailed map of your ownership. It’s where you spell out exactly what’s yours and what’s not, how people can use your content.
This copyright statement goes more in-depth and can include licensing Information: for example, if your content is available for use under certain conditions, the copyright statement might include information about licensing, such as under what terms your content can be shared or reused. It can also include disclaimers and exceptions: such as clarifications about the use of third-party content, or references to real people, a copyright disclaimer, license notice, and so on.
Basically, a copyright statement serves as a clear and detailed declaration of the copyright owner’s rights and intentions. It helps to define the boundaries of what is permissible and what is not, providing guidance to readers, viewers, or users about how they can interact with your content.
The terms “copyright notice” and “copyright statement” are often used interchangeably, but a copyright statement definitely provides more detailed information about the copyright and as such, it’s an extra layer of security and legal protection for your content.
So what I recommend doing for the best use of a copyright notice, is to place the copyright notice everywhere and then also have a more detailed copyright statement easily accessible.
Where to Place Your Copyright Notices
Place the copyright notice in the footer of your blog or website so it appears on every page. It would also be a good idea to link from your footer to a separate page where you have your detailed copyright statement. You can even have a short statement on the home page of your web site.
If you’ve created an ebook, place the notice in the footer of every page and include the detailed statement on the first page.
And so on for every new material and new content you create.
Get Your Free Copyright Notice Template
The copyright statement is much more detailed and dives way deeper into your ownership, your rights, licensing and terms.
So you want to make sure you get it right. Don’t worry about drafting your copyright notice and statement from scratch. I’ve got you covered with a free, professionally drafted Copyright Notice Template. This comes with both a copyright notice and a copyright statement done-for-you template.
You can use this copyright statement template over and over again for anything you create, on your website, blog, ebooks, courses, freebies, printables anything, so that you’re always protected from thieves and copy-cuts.
This is an amazing template that every content creator should have and you can have it for free today.
Legal Pages You Must Have on Your Blog or Website
You can also get my templates to be done with all your legal pages in less than half an hour. And if you want to take advantage of a massive discount, you can snag my best-selling Legal Bundle Value Pack™!
Creating a copyright notice is not just a legal requirement; it’s a necessity for every content creator. It’s your first line of defense against content theft and unauthorized use. So go ahead, protect your hard work, and make your mark with your blog.