Is my own made website automaticly copyrighted or do I have to register it some where?


Is my own made website automatically copyrighted or do I have to register it some where? For example if someone copies my content how can I claim it it was myself? How can I open a case ?


asked Jul 3 '11 at 09:04
Monster Mmorpg
121 points

4 Answers


  1. Today a work of authorship is automatically copyrighted to its creator at the time it is made. Strictly speaking, you don't need to do anything to obtain copyright on your own creative work. But note, knowing that you're right, and proving that you're right in a court of law are two different things.
  2. However, you must still display proper copyright notices ("Copyright © 2011 YourCompany") in the HTML, CSS etc, and in the user-visible web page footer. The reason is to be informative and communicative towards other people, so that they know the website is isn't in the public domain, and don't accidentally infringe on your rights.
  3. Using a 3rd party version control service -- hosted Subversion, hosted Git, or whatever (Unfuddle, Fogbugz & Kiln, Github, etc) is a great aid if you should ever need to prove that you created the website yourself. The log of all your source code checkins, with timestamps and user IDs, from a 3rd party system which you cannot manipulate, is great evidence to have.
  4. Lastly, when you make a deal with a graphics guy or any other consultant to help you build the website, keep the paper trail. Again, a paper trail of contracts regarding creating website logos, creating graphics etc is good evidence to have, should you ever need to prove ownership. If you're using some sort of electronic marketplace (ODesk, Rent A Coder etc) then that's no problem, just keep the transaction history & task descriptions from them.
answered Jul 3 '11 at 18:34
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • I agree with all your points except #2. You don't **have** to display a copyright notice at all, it's automatic under the Berne Convention ( and it's in fact prohibited for a participating country to require such a notice. 164 countries have signed the agreement to date. I won't deny that it's best practice to place a copyright notice on your website, for various reasons; I just don't agree with your wording. – Bobsoap 13 years ago
  • @bobsoap: You're right about the Berne Convention of course. And we agree that it is still best practice to display copyright notices -- feel free to explain why it must still done in your own comment, or better yet, answer. :-) – Jesper Mortensen 13 years ago


As soon as you put your work in a tangible form, it's copyrighted.

You have to either send them a letter saying the infringe or have your lawyer do it.

Check out for more information, if you website is in the US.

answered Jul 3 '11 at 09:24
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • But how do i prove it at the court for example ? – Monster Mmorpg 13 years ago
  • email a screenshot of the website to yourself using a renowned email service like gmail, which preserves timestamps – Henry The Hengineer 13 years ago
  • I don't think this helps. At least not in germany. You could even store this screenshot or whatever in a sealed envelope at your lawers place (musicians did that with demo tapes), but this does not help. – Christian 13 years ago
  • @Jesper has a good idea about revision control. If you have that, then you can use that as proof. – Jarie Bolander 13 years ago


Assuming that you are in the US, in theory you own the copyright to everything you make automagically, but to actually enforce your copyright through a lawsuit you must first register it. So if you plan to sue people for copying your website you do have to register it, although you do own the copyright to it even if you don't register.

Read: Registration is $35:

answered Jul 4 '11 at 11:56
Broccoli Soup
21 points


You need to make sure people know that you are claiming copyright. You do this with "(c) copyright your name 2010 - 2011)" or something like that.

To open a case I recommend you to ask you lawyer. It is very complicated: some might take your content and cite it and it is ok. Some content might be so common, that you can't prove it is yours (for example: "An apple fell down the tree". How could I prove this is from me? Sometimes whole paragraphs are written like that).

After all I have always tried to use material on my website which is ok to be cited, copied, linked to whatever and it always worked. Even my best blog entries were not copied in a way I would had to deal with.

You could also try out a different path, if you don't like all the lawyers. Probably you want to publish content under Creative Commons: You could tell people they can use your content but they are not allowed to change anything and need to give you attribution. I mean, do you really want running behind people and look if they did not steal anything? I bet you would have better chances to allow them if they name you.

It all depends on the content i would say.

To summarize my answer: make a (c) notice and ask a lawer. Have in mind that different countries have different regulations, and using your content on a german server might be allowed even when it is not allowed on an US server.

answered Jul 3 '11 at 18:34
3,590 points

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