What is the correct format for including a copyright notice in the footer of a web site?

I have seen many variations, including:

  • © Cool Businessname 2015
  • © 2015 Cool Businessname
  • Copyright © Cool Businessname 2015
  • Copyright © 2015 Cool Businessname
  • © Cool Businessname 2008-2015 -© Cool Businessname 2008-2015. All rights reserved.

There are more combinations of the above.

Can anyone tell which one is the correct, legitimate format?


4 Answers 4


They are technically all correct because the proper usage of a copyright notice is to inform its users there is a copyright license or agreement on the website in question, therefor regardless of the usage they are all correct assuming they all mean the same thing... i.e these are all the same:

  • © Business Name
  • Copyright Business name
  • 2015 © Business Name

Often finding out the proper usage can be done by checking out what over businesses are doing, this doesn't necessary mean its always right but linked below are some of the most authority websites around and I'm almost certain most if not all will use proper legal copyright consultants.

  • Copyright © 2015 BBC. (1)
  • © Crown copyright (2)
  • Copyright © 2014 State of California (3)
  • © 2015 Cable News Network (4)

Additionally there's no actual law stating you must have copyright notices in the footer, some websites simply choose to use a licensing or copyright page. A great example of this can be seen on The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd which is a digital licensing/copyright agency in the UK. Another fine example would be the European Commission which is responsible for many internet topics such as the cookie policy that is now required in the EU, they don't use such copyright notices but rather a link to a legal notice, again... there's no right or wrong as long as people can find this information.

  • Note that all of your examples are in different countries. So they may all be common in that country, but that doesn't necessarily have any bearing on any other country.
    – DA01
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 6:50
  • Is your site so important that if someone 'borrowed' your content you would actively pursue them with the expense that would entail? If not, what is the point of a copyright notice?
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 7:14
  • @DA01: There is no 'official' or proper 'way' of presenting copyright notices that varies between countries, because such notices are not required and serve only as friendly reminders. Works are automatically protected by copyright according to article 5 of the Berne Convention, which applies almost everywhere. Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 12:12
  • @DA01 2 of the examples are US, One is EU and the other 3 is UK. I'm not going to waste my time or yours pasting examples from 196 different countries. Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 14:13
  • @bybe certainly not. I wouldn't expect you to. I was just trying to point out that copyright laws differ between nations.
    – DA01
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 15:24

First needs to come "©". "Copyright" "©" are the same thing so you could choose either. You only need one of them and you shouldn't use both. You could also use "(c)" or "Copr." instead if you wanted to. I always use the symbol myself.

The first year of publication needs to come second.

The name of the copyright holder comes third.

"All rights reserved" is OK, but optional. I leave it out myself. If you do use it it should come first.

So the following would be OK

  • © 2015 Cool Businessname
  • (c) 2015 Cool Businessname
  • Copyright 2015 Cool Businessname
  • Copr. 2015 Cool Businessname
  • All rights reserved Copyright 2015 Cool Businessname

In my opinion, the first one should be used as it is the shortest and clearest.

The format of the copyright notice for a website is no different than a book or other publication. LegalZoom and BitLaw both have pages that cover the topic.


At least from a US perspective, straight from the source at copyright.gov:

U.S. law no longer requires the use of a copyright notice

That means you work is copyrighted by default. You don't have to actually state the copyright to have it protected.

As that document notes, however, there was a time when it was required. At that time, there were guidelines for how to format it. These are outlined under Chapter 4 of Title 17 of Copyright Law in the United States.

The format stated is:

  • the copyright symbol or the word 'copyright' (or the abbreviation 'copr.' which seems rare)
  • followed by the year of first publish
  • followed by the name of the owner.

So of the ones you list, only this one fits the format correctly:

© 2015 Cool Businessname

So, there you go. Today, you don't need a copyright notice at all, so if you do have one, it really doesn't matter what the format is, but if you want to be consistent with history, use the format recommended above.


The checkmarked answer above includes 3 samples and states "...i.e these are all the same:" NOTE that all three notations are not created equally, 2 are incomplete.

US copyright law requires 3 components in a legal notification :

  1. the copyright symbol or the word "Copyright" or abbr "Copr."

  2. date of publication (or date range, 1st publication-to-most-recent publication)

  3. name of owner

  • 1
    Can you cite this for the answer? It would help. Thanks!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 2:05
  • I was thinking of a link and some cut and paste quotes. As well, please expand on this some. You use the term legal notice, however, notice is not required to enforce a copyright. Under what circumstances is notice required or recommended? One can find a legal notice on the publishers page of a book or a magazine or in the publishers column in a news paper for example, but not all publications have notices. Is it you feel a notice is required for a web page? And why? Is there precedent for this? This would help to make this a stand-out answer.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 2:30

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