Most people don’t realize that in the United States, creative works are protected by copyright law by default. That means that whenever you create something unique in a tangible medium, like website content, it’s automatically owned by you.
However, this “default” right may not give you the legal recourse or compensation you desire if someone steals the content on your website. In fact, without a registered copyright, all you can really do is send a demand letter and hope that the other party complies.
On the other hand, in order to take the other party to court and sue for damages, you’ll need to have a federally registered copyright. Having an actual registered copyright provides you with more leverage when sending a demand as the registration also provides increased damages as well as the ability to sue in federal court.
Is it Beneficial to Copyright My Entire Site?
Like all things: it depends. If the content on your website is a vital part of your business and it would severely damage your brand if someone else steals your work, having the ability to hold the infringer responsible for damages is paramount. In that case, you may want to copyright all of the content available on your site.
Alternatively, rather than copyright the entire site, you may instead choose to protect specific components of the site (a guide or blog post, a photo or drawing for example). This may help you accomplish your goals more efficiently and economically. Your attorney will guide you toward the best course of action based on your needs and desires.
Isn’t a Copyright Notice Enough to Sue?
It’s a common misconception that having a copyright notice at the bottom of a website is enough to take someone to court if your web content is ripped off by a third party.
A copyright notice is not legally binding and merely puts others on notice of your “default rights”. It can also help to serve as a deterrent. But legally speaking, it does not offer the same rights as having a registered copyright with the United States Copyright Office.
Still Have Questions?
Please contact our copyright attorneys for assistance. We can help you create a comprehensive intellectual property plan to ensure that all elements of your brand are protected. To get started, use our online scheduling tool to book a complimentary appointment or call the office at (888) 666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.