Since the new year, I’ve had clients ask me about the copyright date on their sites, and I’ve seen several Facebook posts and blog posts all about “updating the copyright date” on your website’s footer. So, I got a little curious.
- Why should I update the copyright date?
- How important is it to do so?
- If I created content in 2016 but my copyright date is updated to 2019, is my earlier content still protected?
If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, I mean the little © in the footer of most websites followed by the date and the name of the website’s owner.
Rather than randomly Googling this info, I turned to my favorite resource for any of my legal questions: The Online Legal Academy, a free resource by lawyer and online entrepreneur, Bobby Klinck. The videos used to be part of a paid product, the Legal Template Library, (which I bought and HIGHLY recommend), but he recently made all the videos free which is AMAZING.
In any case, here’s what I discovered:
What is a Copyright?
That symbol with the date and name is called a Copyright Notice. When you create any content and put it into written, audio, or video form, it’s automatically copyrighted already. If you create it, you own the copyright to the content.
The notice on your website really just lets people know that you created and own the copyright to all of the content on your website.
The copyright covers all of your web content including blog posts, web copy, freebies, course information, info products and more. As soon as you’ve expressed your ideas and put them into some sort of form that others can consume, your content is covered by copyright which means that people can’t steal it and use it.
Of course, they might still do this, but the copyright says that you own the material and you could technically sue someone for copyright infringement.
Should you update the copyright date on your website and why?
Bobby Klinck actually didn’t address this question in his videos, so I posted in his private FB group. He got right back to me — seriously, this guy is amazing. It’s like having my own personal legal team – he’s that responsive.
Here was his answer:
“Your copyright protection attaches at the time you created the content. That means that for each page of content, you get copyright protection on the day of publication. That means, that you shouldn’t update the date of your notice each year to just the current year. If you are adding things to your website on a regular basis, use [EARLIEST PUBLICATION YEAR] – [CURRENT YEAR].”
Boom – an easy to understand answer from an attorney with a background in intellectual property law. You want the “spread” of dates to cover your website’s launch year to the current year.
Now, you gotta get this info on your website.
How to update the Copyright Date in your Footer
In this quick video, I show you how to “get” the copyright symbol, so you can add it to your footer.
This video shows you how to update the footer if you’re using Beaver Builder. If you’re a client, you might have a custom footer, and I’ll show you how to update that. If you don’t have a custom footer, you can watch the video starting right about 1:15 to see how to update a standard Beaver Builder theme footer.
The final video shows you how to update the copyright date on any of the basic WordPress themes.
Hopefully, you’ll never have anyone steal your work, but it’s good to have your notices in place letting visitors know that it’s NOT okay to do that. Don’t panic if you don’t have copyright notices on your website. You’re still protected. But, if you do have them, keep them updated with the current year.
If you’ve got any legal questions at all about your website, sign up for Bobby Klinck’s free legal academy to get access to hours of helpful videos.
If you need help with the tech end of updating your site, go ahead and ask in the comments below.
P.S. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means I’ll earn a small commission if you choose to purchase based on my recommendation. I only recommend products that I use and stand behind 100% and the legal resources Bobby Klinck provides are amazing.