Do I Need to Copyright My Website?

These days, it’s hard for any business to function without a website. Your website likely is the first contact that many of your customers will have with you, and this means that you have to work hard to keep your content up-to-date, valuable and meaningful.

Simply put, maintaining a website is hard work, but it’s definitely worth it. When you work that hard to build something, it’s only natural that you would want to protect it. This prevents other people from stealing your hard work and unfairly benefitting from the fruits of your labor.

One of the best ways to protect your website and its content is by obtaining a registered copyright on it. If you’re not certain what a copyright is and how it applies to websites, read on. Williams IP Law is covering the basics to help you protect your intellectual property rights.

What Is a Website?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a website is “a webpage or set of interconnected web pages, including a homepage, located on the same computer or server (i.e., fixed together on that computer or server), and prepared and maintained as a collection of information by a person, group, or organization.”

Accordingly, pretty nearly any website that you might create or have created for you will qualify for copyright protection under this broad definition. Even the simplest website that consists of only a single webpage with some basic information about your business qualifies, and if your website and business are successful, then this is the only incentive you need to consider obtaining a formal copyright.

Why Should You Copyright Your Website?

Whether you create and maintain a website yourself or you hire someone else to do it for you, a great deal of time, money and effort goes into it. The best websites contain plenty of original content like photographs, text on the various pages and blog posts.

All of that content is automatically protected under U.S. copyright law as soon as it is created. While formal registration of that content is not required, it is recommended as it provides you with more robust legal protections.

With a registration, your intellectual property rights are a matter of public information. You’ll even have a registration certificate to prove it. If you discover that someone is infringing your copyright, it can be helpful and even necessary to have a formally registered copyright before you can bring an infringement lawsuit.

Should you be forced to bring a lawsuit and you are able to prevail in court, that registration may entitle you to statutory damages and attorney’s fees. In short, registering a copyright for your website gives you additional and more robust legal remedies.

What Can You Not Copyright?

Copyright protection is applicable to a host of materials such as:

  • Songs
  • Photos
  • Paintings
  • Scripts
  • Movies
  • Poems
  • Books
  • Blog posts
  • Copy from webpages

As long as you are the author or creator of any of the content on your website, then it is possible to register for a copyright.

However, if you hire someone else to take photographs for your website, write content or produce blog posts, then they technically are the author and owner under copyright law. The same is true if you hire a web designer to build your website.

You can obtain ownership rights in all of this content and your overall website by arranging for an assignment that transfers ownership from the creator to you. Typically, it is necessary to have an attorney craft such an agreement.

Some web designers and other contributors to your website may have a standard assignment form that they use with all of their clients. It’s wise to have your own attorney review such an agreement before you sign, just to ensure that you are properly obtaining ownership.

How to Copyright Your Website

The copyright process is fairly quick and easy when you use the copyright.gov website. A minimal fee and paperwork are involved. If you are unfamiliar with the process or just want to ensure that things go more smoothly, then you may want to consult with an intellectual property attorney who can complete the registration process for you.

It’s also wise to work with an attorney because the copyright office occasionally will make rejections on submissions for registration. If this occurs, it is sensible to ask an attorney to help straighten out any issues to ensure registration.

If you want to ensure that your competitors are not allowed to steal your website content with impunity, then contact Williams IP Law. These experienced intellectual property practitioners will walk you through the process of registering a copyright on your website.