One way to ensure that would-be infringers think twice about taking your content is to include your copyright notice in a very obvious location on your site. The notice may be enough to make your copyright ownership apparent to the uninformed and bring to their attention the possibility that a work placed on the Internet is not, by virtue of that location, public domain.
Eliminate the Possibility of An Innocent-Infringement Defense
Should you take someone to court over using your work without your permission, your inclusion of a copyright notice will make it highly unlikely that the infringer will be able to use a defense of innocent infringement. A successful defense of innocent infringement would mean that the infringer’s damages have been reduced or even remitted. An infringer will find it difficult to claim they had no knowledge of your ownership if you have a copyright notice in plain sight on your homepage.
Protection In Other Countries
It is true that currently in the U.S. the copyright notice does not have to be attached to a work published after 1978 in order to be eligible for protection under copyright law. However, in some other countries a notice is required, and since your site can be accessed worldwide, it is wise, if for no other reason, to include the copyright notice.
Be certain you place a copyright statement on the bottom of the home page. This should be sufficient to protect the entire site. It doesn’t hurt, however, to place a notice on the bottom of each page of your website, and in doing this you may remove all doubt that the work on the site is yours and not for the taking without permission. The notice should contain the copyright symbol or the word copyright spelled out, the year of first publication, and the name of the owner of the copyright. The notice must contain the name of the legal copyright owner. This will likely be your name or possibly the name of your company. A notice using the name of your product or the title of your website will not protect your work.
Examples of legal copyright notices:
Copyright, 2013 Integrated Writer Services, LLC
© 2013 Joyce Miller
© 2013 Integrated Writer Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Example of a notice that will not protect a site:
© 2013 www.thecopyrightdetective.com
Terms and Conditions Page
It is a good idea to hyperlink your copyright notice to a page that defines your terms of service. On the terms of service page, you can outline for your readers and contributors any expectations you may have for their participation and interaction with your site.
1. Do you wish to allow others to republish a limited amount of your content or all of it on another site or in a print work? You may wish to use a Creative Commons license if you wish to allow people to copy and reproduce your content without asking you for permission, but first be sure to become knowledgeable about the various restrictions on each of the six Creative Commons licenses.
Ask yourself questions regarding how you want to control your content. Base your questions on the limitations and restrictions on these licenses. For example, do you wish to allow users to use your work without contacting you for permission, and do you mind if they use it without giving you attribution? Do you expect borrowers to always give you credit for their use? Do you wish users to use your work only in noncommercial products? Do you wish users to be able to change your work, to make new works containing your work, in other words to make derivatives of your work, without asking your permission? Go to http://creativecommons.org to study each license and determine which one best suits your needs and ensures compliance with your wishes.
The Creative Commons site offers symbols for each of the six licenses that you may place on your site to indicate how you want your work used.
2. Do you want visitors to your site to contact you to obtain permission to republish? You must give them a way to do so if you do. You might add a button to click that allows for an email to be sent to you.
Reproduction or republication of any content on this site is strictly forbidden.
No content on this site may be reproduced without the express permission of ______.
For permission to use any portion of the content on this website send requests to ____. (Provide your mailing address, email address, or a link to an email form.)
3. Do you want to insist they indicate by some action that all content they place on your site is clear of copyright infringements? Maybe you could require them to click “yes” to the following statement.
__Yes, I warrant that the materials or comments I am submitting to this site are free and clear of any copyright infringement.
And a reminder for you as a user of other’s content: You should always place necessary attribution on any content you place on your own site as well to avoid claims by other owners that you are infringing. You should determine if the copyrighted items you are publishing require you to obtain permission from the owners and follow through with a request before you post the copyrighted material.
Want More About Copyright Law?
Order your copy of Copyright Clearance for Creatives for a basic overview of copyright law and essential guidelines on when, how, and where to get permission to use copyright content in your works.