Copyright Notices on Websites. Needed?

Do We Really Need Copyright on Websites?

2011 is approaching fast and as per the usual ritual, my Twitter stream will soon be dotted with “helpful” reminders from people regarding copyright notices that need to be updated.  You know the ones - the small snippet of text usually at the bottom of websites. But do we actually need these notices? I asked this question on Twitter and got mixed responses - so I decided to dig deeper.  What I discovered is that no, you do not need to put a copyright notice on your website to claim it as your own. There is no legal reason for a copyright notice on most websites.  There is certainly no reason for it on small sites and blogs.  One twitterer mentioned that a copyright notice helps deter people from stealing content and another stated that it helps make a case for willful misuse.   Both are valid points, but thanks to the current international copyright laws both are false. For starters, anything you create is immediately covered under copyright.  Be it a web page, a poem, song or pretty much anything thats perceptible.  You don’t need to stick a notice on it.    You don’t see copyright notices on a painting - why do you need it on a website? If you’ve created a website, you don’t need to “stake a claim” on it.  And if someone copies your design or content, you don’t need a copyright notice to prove that they have infringed on your work.

Will a Copyright Notice Stop People from Stealing My Content

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll no doubt have had your content stolen numerous times by automated bots that repost your content.  Do these bots look for a copyright notice?  Of course they don’t.  They will steal your content no matter what. iIf you’re smart, you won’t get yourself in a hissy fit.  Rather, you’ll accept that spammers will always be.

Google and Copyright

As the story goes, Google only put the copyright notice on their website, when they noticed people just sat staring at the screen when they visited Google.  The people were waiting for the page to finish loading.  The Copyright notice was a smart way for Google to tell users that the site really was that basic and it ha finished loading.

In Conclusion

Do you need a copyright notice? No.  Is there anything wrong with putting a copyright notice on your blog?  No.  And remember, it can also be used as a little reminder to users that the page has finished loading. Or, just do what I do and use creative commons - anybody can repost this article in its entirety, mash it up, print or copy it and all thats required is attribution.
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