Advantages to Using a Copyright Notice
Although notice is optional for unpublished works, foreign works, or works published on or after
March 1, 1989, using a copyright notice carries the following benefits:
• Notice makes potential users aware that copyright is claimed in the work.
• In the case of a published work, a notice may prevent a defendant in a copyright infringement
action from attempting to limit his or her liability for damages or injunctive relief based on an
innocent infringement defense.
• Notice identifies the copyright owner at the time the work was first published for parties seeking permission to use the work.
• Notice identifies the year of first publication, which may be used to determine the term of
copyright protection in the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work
made for hire.
• Notice may prevent the work from becoming an orphan work by identifying the copyright
owner and specifying the term of the copyright.
Oh, I didn't realize this. I always thought I should use the current year as the copyright year. My impression was that using a year in the past makes it look like the website hasn't been updated for a long time, or that the website owner doesn't pay attention to detail.
Should I always be using the first year in the copyright footer on my website, instead of the current year?
I just looked at some very large websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), and they all use 2020. Maybe it's just better to follow this convention.
Copyright 2014, 2016, 2017-2020
Maybe it'd work as a plugin to a content management system.
Of course, it’s probably just automated, since updating the copyright with changes once a year is probably too big of a pain.
A range like 2002-2020 conveys two ideas: that the work has been around for a while, and that it is still maintained. Both are important for corporate folks who want an assurance of stability.
There is a small but non-zero risk that by using a later year than the correct one you will actually weaken any legal claim you might need to make. The other party might turn up in court and say, "Look, nathan_f77 only claimed copyright from 2020 on this work, and it's on my site with a date five years earlier!". So automatically updating the date without leaving the original dates in place is a particularly bad idea.
In reality, the main practical purpose served by such notices these days is deterrence: it makes clear that someone specific does claim the copyright, for the benefit of the kind of person who doesn't really know how copyright works and might otherwise assume that because something is on the Internet then it's OK for them to take and redistribute it. They'd lose a legal action anyway, but those are expensive and time-consuming and there may be little to gain from one if the damage caused is minimal, so avoiding it by staking a very obvious claim might be helpful in some situations.
Can not remember who told me about putting the first published date but it was an expert at the time ( we had a lot of copyrighted material).
If mine just says ©2020 and theirs says ©2012, my argument that I created mine before they created theirs is weaker than if mine says ©2008.
At the least it means my lawyers will have to take time to explain to the jury why mine saying ©2020 doesn't contradict my argument. They may need to spend time presenting archives to bolster this, and then may have to spend time explaining how archive.org or similar works, and establishing that those can be trusted.
Each side in a civil trial is allotted a fixed time for arguments, rebuttals, and summaries, so any time my lawyers have to spend in court dealing with my ©2020 is time not available for most important things.
© <?php echo date("Y"); ?>
I think this is the big one. Copyright infringement can be a criminal or civil offense, and the civil offense can be "willful", "ordinary", or just "innocent". The more that a defendant can show that he didn't realize he was violating copyright, the more the offense could be pushed towards ordinary or innocent. A big fat copyright notice makes it hard to make that argument.
Being realistic, you see copyright notices on websites because people see them elsewhere and assume they are necessary and add them to their own sites without thought. Then other people see those notices and assume the same thing. It's a vicious circle. Lots of people copying others who don't know what they are doing.
It's why every year on New Year's Day you get a bunch of people going "It's 20xx, update your footers!" and more people saying you should just automatically show the current year. The copyright notice isn't there to tell you what the current year is – everybody knows what the current year is – it's there to tell you what year the work was first published.
Even knowing it’s not a legal requirement, I can’t imagine leaving it out. It’s like creating a painting and not signing it.
Oh yes, the great inspiring Marissa Mayer, the woman who rushed into Yahoo! and banned work from home but for anyone but herself and and had a daycare in her oversized office.
And then proceeded to run Yahoo into the ground.
I'd prefer not to listen to anything she has to say.
On the other hand, the likelihood that a mere copyright symbol will deter economically-consequential copying from a website/webapp is quite low. Therefore, as a former founder and current law student (and definitely not a lawyer yet), I'd advise you to do whatever the hell makes sense for your business for ancillary reasons. Add the symbol if you think you're dealing with superstitious folks to whom a copyright symbol lends an aura of credibility; omit it if you are going for a clean aesthetic.
You, as the author, automatically have copyright for your own creative works. No registration, marking or anything else needed. It also doesn't matter whether you share it or not - copyright is an automatic right.
Now, enforcement is another matter...
That's true for copyright notices in comments that get stripped out in compilation where the source itself isn't released. But a copyright notice in a no-op variable, or otherwise embedded in the distributed code, can help win a lawsuit by directly proving copying (which can sometimes be a nontrivial effort).
Text in distributed executables helped win a case for Apple back in the 1980s: "James Huston, an Apple systems programmer, concluded that the Franklin programs were 'unquestionably copied from Apple and could not have been independently created.' He reached this conclusion not only because it is 'almost impossible for so many lines of code' to be identically written, but also because his name, which he had embedded in one program (Master Create), and the word 'Applesoft', which was embedded in another (DOS 3.3), appeared on the Franklin master disk." Apple Computer Corp. v. Franklin Computer Corp., 714 F.2d 1240, 1245 (3d Cir. 1983) (Emphasis added.)
Case text: https://casetext.com/case/apple-computer-inc-v-franklin-comp...
Someone copies a source file, maybe you can argue that it’s accidental. Someone copies a source file and strips out the copyright notice, that shows intent.
But in US law, if something infringes your copyright, you can get more damages if the court rules it was "willful" infringement. I'm not totally sure it's settled that a copyright notice makes a difference, but I'm guessing big companies think it can't hurt. (Also keep in mind whether you're as willing as big companies to go to court, or if the most you practically want to do is have a lawyer send someone a polite but firm letter.)
Another thing you can do if you want things to go better in court (and isn't really worthwhile otherwise) is to register your work with the Copyright Office.
> Under the Convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires.
For the US, see https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#mywork :
> Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
> ... In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”
That "Copyright Basics" links to https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf :
> Applying a copyright notice to a work has not been required since March 1, 1989, but may still provide practical and legal benefits. Notice typically consists of the copyright symbol or the word “Copyright,” the name of the copyright owner, and the year of first publication. Placing a copyright notice on a work is not a substitute for registration.
My ultimate thought is that nobody is going to respect copyright, so I tend to upload everything under some sort of permissive license so that their "no copyright intended" thought process ends up being in compliance with the license. Sharing is human nature. A c surrounded in a circle isn't going to change it.
Of course Content ID doesn't always work as intended, especially for works that are owned by ordinary people and not the MAFIAA. But I think the basic idea is sound and hope that it becomes the norm. As you said, sharing is human nature. Sharing should be okay as long as both money and credit go where they should.
Plagiarism is an ethical offense but not a legal one and isn’t limited to direct reuse. It includes using ideas (even in your own words or representation) without attributing them.
Copyright violation is a legal offense and applies to direct reuse (including various forms of “remixing”).
(IANAL, this is not legal advice.)
But if someone takes your property it’s helpful in getting it back if the thing they claim to be theirs has your name on it.
With copyable property, especially where copying might reasonably be expected such as with source code or content on a website, it’s helpful for other parties to know who they should ask if they want to take a copy. (The license may also require that the original owners name be included on copies.)
You can also put the license right there too. Especially if the license is “no license” aka All Rights Reserved.
(C) 2020 gorgoiler, all rights reserved.
- users see copyright notices on every big brand site, so if you don't include a copyright notice, you risk not looking like a big brand. Adding it is a simple way to look more legitimate.
- everyone else does it, so it must be a good idea and be done for important legal reasons, right?
In the event that you're litigating a copyright claim it is slightly easier to do so if you have copyright statements littered about, but on the other hand a vexatious counterparty would just get into the weeds of arguing that they were either not prominent enough or overbroad (perhaps because you were using a lot of open source or public domain assets).
2) In the USA, you don't actually need to do anything, but some countries, like Japan, prefer explicit copyright registration, etc.
But, people were very keen on getting their copyright notices updated with the new year. It was a welcome trickle of revenue to spend an hour going in and updating it.
Just about everyone agreed that it was pointless, but they still wanted it done.
If you want to protect your work, submit it to a timestamping service with your name/signature in it. Then you can at least show that at the given instant you were in possession of the work. If another party can't do the same for the same work at an earlier timepoint, then you have a stronger case.
A page without decoration of some sort at the bottom looks naked, bottomless, and what better decorator to use than the one used by every single site out there?
(or at least that they future-proofed it).
In this sense, it shows the website is alive.
- The website you are looking at most likely uses Shopify as a CMS, they add this automatically to any store created with their software.
So no, people don't add this on purpose. There around 500,000 active Shopify stores according to recent statistics so this is why it is so common to see it.