Genii Weblog

Bloggers and website owners - change your copyrights

Tue 30 Dec 2008, 09:54 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
For reasons that I cannot explain, it drives me a bit crazy when websites and blogs leave their copyright year unchanged for days, weeks or months.  Each year I bug people about this, and this year I decided to start early, and remind you a couple of days before to change your copyright dates.  You know I'll probably be back to check in another week.

Copyright 2008 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

743.1. Duffbert
(12/31/2008 04:37 AM)

@Year is my friend... :)

743.2. Kevin Pettitt
(12/31/2008 06:31 AM)

Ha! I totally agree. My pet peeve goes further. I can't stand it when the web platform won't support, or people don't use, dynamic dates, especially when, as Duff points out, @Year is so freakin' simple.

So, for those Blogsphere v3 users who don't know (probably most of you), I added a "tag" to the Blogsphere design a while back that you can use in your side blocks to achieve this easily. Just insert <$BSYear$> and the current year will appear on the site in that spot.

Happy New Year!

743.3. Rupert Clayton
(12/31/2008 07:35 AM)

The issue is quite a bit more complex than it may seem.

First of all, there's no legal requirement to place a copyright notice on material published after 1989, so any notice you do place on your blog or site has only two purposes. The first is to give you additional ammunition in the event that you get involved in legal action over copyright infringement (unlikely for most bloggers, but I guess it could happen). The other purpose would be for marketing: the current year suggests that your site is regularly updated.

If you want to include a copyright notice to give you additional legal protection, then you should probably try to follow the legal requirements. But you'll run into two date related issues there. One is that the notice should state the specific year that a particular document (e.g. blog posting) was first published -- so marking every page with the current year is wrong. And unfortunately, using a date range (e.g. 2003-2009 Genii Software Ltd.) is not a valid format for copyright notices either (although it could still be helpful in legal arguments).

You should also be aware that if you use a date that is more than a year later than the actual first publication date, then the copyright notice is invalid (which just means that you'll need to use some other evidence of when you published your posting).

All in all, it seems like you should probably regard an up-to-date copyright notice as merely an indicator that your site is alive, and a mild disincentive to someone ripping off your content. For actual proof of the date from which you owned copyright, the blog posting date is likely to be much more useful.

BTW, it's still Dec 31, but Ben's copyright date range is 2003-2009. I guess you're not using @Year!

743.4. Rupert Clayton
(12/31/2008 07:36 AM)

Oh, and all that only relates to US copyright law. In other countries the requirements may be very different.

743.5. Ben Langhinrichs
(12/31/2008 07:41 AM)


You are, of course, absolutely correct. The copyright notice as I have it is entirely for the sake of notifying people that I keep this blog up to date. The US copyright laws provide whatever protection I need for the blog posts themselves. As for the date range, I don't use @Year, but instead update this when my first customer reaches the new year, which has already happened. Just because we are further behind the curve of the earth doesn't mean our readers are.

It is an interesting point that I could provide a copyright note on each page with the @Modified date determining the year. I am not that worried about the content being stolen though.

- Ben