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I want to add a copyright notice to a website I created.

Something like

(c) Me 2010. All rights reserved.

I am aware that everything written by someone is automatically copyrighted (if I'm not mistaken, and perhaps depending on country laws).

I see some sites use the following format for this

(c) Me 2009-2010.

However for me that makes no sense to add an 'end-date' to the notice. I am aware I can code to update the notice every year, but I just find it strange. Or is it just me?

Another question is:

I also use copyrighted code from others (they are all mentioned in the credits including links to their licenses of course) on my site. Would it still be OK to add the copyright notice to the site with only Me in it?

So to sum it up I have 2 questions:

  • What is THE RIGHT WAYTM of adding a copyright notice on a website (or code or whatever)? If there is one.
  • Is it allowed to copyright code with other copyrighted code within it?
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6 Answers 6

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1) There is no particular 'right way' of adding a copyright notice, as there are different requirements in different countries, but I would include the word 'copyright', the copyright symbol, the year of publication, and the copyright owner's name as a minimum. See http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p03_copyright_notices for details.

2) The copyright notice is for the creation of your website, which is the (hopefully) unique combination of content and design, so I don't see a problem with your site containing only your name in the notice. It all depends what the licenses are for the code you have used.

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It is a losing battle to copyright code unless you are Goldman. AFAIK just having a domain with content is all you need. Shows that you have purchased and made content related to your idea.

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In the US, everything you write is automatically has copyright. So you automatically copyright the code you write. Suing for copyright infringement is far less easy. –  Stephen Ostermiller Nov 18 '13 at 12:28

You are right to be wary of the year range copyrights! These have no legal meaning, and it's entirely possible that their use would weaken your position in the unlikely case that you went to court.

Of course Berne signatory states (most countries including the US) don't require notice, but posting notice gives you certain rights including the rebuttable presumption that the other party knew that your material was copyrighted.

As for the double-copyright question, if you add your own content to a work which is already copyrighted, both parties own the copyright to what results (called a "derivative work"). Neither party can use a derivative work without the permission of the other! So be very careful in those situations.

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I don't know the right way to copyright stuff. On websites, I just leave a "Copyright (c) UmbraProjekt. All rights reserved" notice in the footer.

As for copyrighting code that's copyrighted by someone else, it depends on the licence, but generally yes, you may do so, as long as the code written by someone else is free for you to be used in your own work (usually it is). Check the code's licence thoroughly though: it may ask for something in return or may put limitations on how/where you use it. In some cases you may or may not be required to:

  • honour the original author
  • make the modified code publicly available
  • not use the original code for commercial purposes, etc.

Please refer to the common licences to see what limitations are commonly applied and read the copyright notices carefully.

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The dates are there because you created the work(s) on your site in those years. Most sites use

Copyright (start year) - (current year) You, Inc. All rights reserved.

If you use others' copyrighted work, it's up to you to satisfy their demands for acknowledgement, which could be a link, attribution, or royalty. Or they could deny you.

You might use

This work Copyright (some date) So-And-So, LLC. Used with permission.

But I'm not a lawyer, so if you're really concerned seek competent legal advice.

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There are a few ways of writing this, but generally this is fine:

Copyright © 2010 Your Name. All rights reserved.

If the year is earlier than the current year, it's assumed that it means 2009-NOW, so no need to write 2009-2010 (of course, having last year makes your page look a little dated).

To answer your second point, the copyright statement does not specifically state what it's copyrighting. For example, you don't say "Images and design copyright (c) 2010 Your name". It's assumed you mean the website (design, images, content) - but I wouldn't think the source code.

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Thanks for pointing out the dated issue. Good point! –  PeeHaa Dec 10 '10 at 22:04

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