Copyright Your Blog or Website

It’s a new year. Should I change the copyright date on all my work so I don’t lose it?

You really should update any website regularly, including the copyright date. Many people think that if the copyright on a website is old, the website is not trustworthy. That’s a good reason to update the copyright notice. But you don’t have to change the date every year to protect your rights. That is not how copyright works.

The copyright is the date the work was first written or published. A copyright protects your intellectual property for “the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.”

Changing the date does not change the copyright.

Your intellectual property is yours as soon as you create it. You don’t even have to put a copyright notice on your writing. Even work that is not published is copyrighted. Even if you don’t say it is copyrighted, it is still copyrighted.

What is a Copyright?

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. In copyright law, there are a lot of different types of works, including paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, and so much more!

What copyright date should I put?

The copyright date is the date your work was created or published.

What about the date for my blog?

A blog is created over time. You can put something like Copyright Your Name © 2011 – 2022.
Some of the work was first published in 2011. Content continues to be added. If you are using WordPress, you can automate the update by putting this code <script type=”text/javascript”> document.write(new Date().getFullYear()); </script> for the year in the code (text view). It will automatically update.

You don’t have to have a copyright notice on every page. You can just have it on your home page, then perhaps have it link to a page with a copyright notice and maybe legal disclaimers. If you want to license use of your copyrighted content, you can put your contact information on this page.

What name goes on the copyright?

The name of the copyright owner goes on the copyright notice. The copyright owner is not always the writer. If you hire someone to write your copy, usually you are the copyright owner. If you are paid to write, unless you have a contract saying otherwise, the person paying you owns the copyright.

How do I write a copyright notice?

The copyright notice is your name as the copyright holder, the word copyright or abbreviation copr, and/or the copyright symbol and the date or dates.

Copyright Your Name © 2011 – 2022

There is no rule about what order the words are in. It would be just as legal if you put “©2022 Your Name.”

What should a copyright notice page say?

If you want to, your copyright notice can link to a page with more information.

This page can repeat the copyright information, your name as the copyright holder, the word copyright or abbreviation copr, and/or the copyright symbol and the date or dates.

Copyright Your Name © 2011 – 2022.

Then you can put in something about reserving rights. You can find this on a lot of websites, just edit it to say what you want to say.

All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations or other non-profit and noncommercial uses as permitted by copyright law.

If you are interested in licensing your work or giving written permission, you can give your contact information.

For permission requests, contact…

You might want to add a disclaimer. You can find examples on other websites and books. You can say something about “any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental…” or “names have been changed.”

This is also a good place to put trademark notices if you need to.

design42, the logo, and other trademarks are trademarks of design42 and may not be used without permission.
The names of other companies, products and services and related marks, images and symbols are the property of their respective owners.

You could also put in a disclaimer of some type.

design42 respects the intellectual property rights of others and is committed to complying with U.S. copyright laws. We have not knowingly infringed on any rights.

If you believe that design42 has infringed your copyrighted work in a way that does not fall within fair use, please let us know.

Who owns the copyright?

If you wrote something for a client, the client probably owns the copyright.
If you were paid to write copy for a website, even if the website is not currently on the internet, don’t assume you can re-use or re-sell the words you wrote. Unless your contract says otherwise, the person paying for the writing owns the writing.

Copyright law allows ownership through “works made for hire,” which establishes that works created by an employee within the scope of employment are owned by the employer. The work made for hire doctrine also applies to certain independent contractor relationships, for certain types of commissioned works.

What is Copyright?

Can I put a copyright date that is in the future?

I’ve bought books that show a copyright date that is in the future. I think the book just came out earlier than expected.

I really don’t see the point. The copyright lasts your whole life plus 70 years… You are concerned for your grandchildren?

Proof that you are the copyright owner

If you really want to protect your copyright, you can register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

What is the Copyright Office?

The US Copyright Office holds records of copyright registration in the United States. It started in 1790. The rules have changed a few times. Since 1870, it’s been part of the Library of Congress.

You own the copyright on your work even if you don’t register it with the Copyright Office. But registering your work brings extra protection. You will have to register a copyright if you want to bring a lawsuit for infringement.

I received money for copyright infringement even though I had never registered my work, but that was back in 2010. In March 2019, the US Supreme Court ruled that copyrights must be registered to successfully file a complaint against someone.

Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation.

It is easy to register. There is an online form. But you have to pay a filing fee.

You don’t have to rush to register.

… if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.

But it takes time for your copyright application to be approved.  If someone steals your work, “actual approval of a copyright application by the United States Copyright Office is required before suit can be filed.” And application to approval can take up to a year.

In addition to other remedies, copyright law allows for “statutory damages” of up to $150,000 per work infringed upon, and also provides for the possibility of attorney fees being awarded to a prevailing party. However, these remedies are only available when an owner applies for registration either within 90 days of first publication of the work or before the infringement begins. If a copyright application for a published work is not filed until after the infringement begins, these statutory damages are unavailable, and attorney fees cannot be awarded. Thus, for any significant work of authorship, early application for registration is necessary for copyright owners to be able to act quickly and receive a maximum recovery.

Supreme Court Decision Impacts Copyright Registration
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Jones Walker
LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 65

What about Notarizing or a Postmark Copyright?

Can I print everything and mail it to myself so that the date of the postmark proves the date of my copyright?


The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

Having your work notarized isn’t an alternative to registering a copyright.

While it may serve as evidence that the work is in your possession as of the date it was mailed or notarized, it in no way proves that you are the author who created that work or holds the rights in it.


Keep your content fresh so that the site doesn’t just look current, it is current.

If you really believe that your content is valuable and want to be able to pursue it, you should register it through the Library of Congress, which costs money.