The Proper Way to Format Your Website Copyright Notice

December 9, 2016

Most websites have copyright lines on them. It’s a common practice even though it’s not technically required. Unfortunately, a lot of copyright notices are formatted incorrectly. A lot. (It’s a pet peeve of mine.)

Why include a copyright on your website?

By law you are not required to have a copyright notice on your site. But it’s probably a good idea purely to prevent confusion and, more importantly, to deter potential infringers.

"All websites and their content are inherently copyrighted, provided they are original works."
—Heleigh Bostwick (LegalZoom)

How to format copyright properly

It’s quite simple really.

But first, a disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV or anywhere. While I’ve read plenty on this topic and know the general legalities so that I feel confident enough to provide this information, I’m not liable or responsible for how you take or use this information. Again, I’m not a lawyer and if you have any questions, I suggest you consult with one.

Okay, on with it… Here’s the formula for the copyright notice:

 © YYYY Author. Rights statement.
  1. The copyright symbol - which, on a Mac you can easily type out by hitting Option-g, or simply type a “c” in parentheses like so: (c).
  2. The year the site was published/launched (e.g. 2016). This could also be a range of years (e.g. 2003-2016).
  3. The name of the owner/author (e.g. your company name).
  4. A “rights statement”.

The rights statement is not legally required but it doesn’t hurt to include it. Some options for this are as follows:

  • All rights reserved.
  • Some rights reserved. (This is usually accompanied by a Creative Commons License.)
  • No rights reserved.

Here’s an example:

© 2016 Acme, Inc. All rights reserved.

That’s it?

Yep, that’s it. Now go forth! And write out your copyright notice correctly! :)