Ever since I made my first web page 13 years ago I have followed the pattern of showing a copyright notice in the footer of each page.

Over the years the format of this notice has changed in the following way;

  • Copyright © <NAME> yyyy. All rights are reserved.
  • Copyright © yyyy <NAME>
  • © yyyy <NAME>
  • © <NAME>

This has generally mirrored the format used by Google. However, I recently noticed that they no longer display a copyright notice on their home page nor have one in their source code/meta tags. I see they still display it on most (if not all) other pages. I understand that Google are very keen to keep the word count down on their homepage, which could be the reason for this sacrafice, but my question is more general and relates to all websites.

Since I've always just done it out of habit, I'm hoping someone can explain if/when I a copyright notice is actually required to protect your content and rights. Also, when it is required, is there a format in which the notice must adhere to in order to be valid?

1 Answer 1


From the Wikipedia article on copyright:

Under the Berne Convention, copyrights for creative works do not have to be asserted or declared, as they are automatically in force at creation: an author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Berne Convention.

Declaring and even registering your copyright may still provide some benefits(again, check your country) in the situation you ever need to actually enforce your rights. Obviously, if you are not in one of these countries, your situation is different and additional information will be required.

  • Great answer! I'm curious though. What is the country in question? Where the website is developed, hosted, or accessible? Protection against "innocent infringement" defenses will probably keep me using the copyright notice (in its minimal form).
    – neocotic
    Dec 1, 2011 at 9:43
  • 1
    Just to add to this, although "no notice does not equal no copyright", it's definitely worth adding a copyright notice so there is no confusion. Dec 1, 2011 at 11:27

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