A Quick Guide to Copyright for WordPress Website Owners

A Quick Guide to Copyright for WordPress Website OwnersIf you’re a content creator, you may have thought of several ways to protect your content from copyright infringers, and from theft. The easiest way to achieve this is to copyright your website.

Copyrights are legal protections for original creative works. It could be writings, photographs, art, images, music, videos, etc. These are all intellectual property of the creator. Therefore, you cannot use, copy, modify, or publish the work without the owner’s permission.

In this article, we will be discussing why you should add a copyright notice to your website. We will also show you what a copyright notice looks like and how you can protect your website content. Let’s begin.

Table of Contents:

Why Copyright my Website?

It isn’t pleasant to see someone else copy your work without giving you due credit. For this reason, you should copyright your website. It is a good idea to include a copyright notice on your WordPress site even though it is copyrighted by default.

Copyrighting your website serves as public proof of ownership of the digital content created within the site. This is beneficial especially if there is a case of copyright infringement, as it enables you to take legal action. The website copyright also serves as a means of preventing copycats from claiming ownership of your work.

What a Website Copyright Notice Contains

So we know the benefits of a website copyright, but what does it look like? The copyright notice is a short line of text that contains three elements:

  • The copyright symbol ©. It can also be the word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”
  • Next is the year the website was published. However, if there is new content created on the site, the recent years should be added to the copyright notice.
  • The name of the copyright owner. This can be the company name, the person/persons who created the work, or the owner’s name.
  • A term like “All Rights Reserved” to protect the original content on your site.

Here is an example of what a copyright notice looks like: © 2013 – 2022 Fixrunner.com. All rights Reserved.

Example of a Website Copyright notice 

Types of Content a Copyright Protects

Although copyrights have numerous benefits, you cannot copyright every aspect of your website. As technology advances, most copyright laws are becoming obsolete and cannot protect all aspects of your website content.

Examples of aspects the copyright law does not cover are short phrases, familiar symbols, the layout and design of your website, and sometimes, even your domain name. It also doesn’t cover common information like calendars and lists from public documents.

However, the elements that are under the copyright protection are:

  • Original content you publish on your site
  • Creative works such as photographs you took yourself or artworks
  • Video content and designs
  • Original codes that you wrote

So if any content on your website gets copyrighted, you would have to prove its originality.

How to Copyright Your WordPress Website

There are different ways you can copyright your website’s content. You do not need to implement all of them. Simply pick the method you prefer and go on to protect your website.

Add a Copyright Notice to the Website Footer

After your WordPress installation, you may have noticed a copyright symbol at the footer of your webpage. Having a copyright notice is common with almost all WordPress themes.

Using the presets provided, you can easily change it to the name of your site within the theme settings. Following the guideline above, insert the copyright symbol, the year the site was published, and your business name.

Inserting the copyright notice serves as a form of warning, letting users know that your content cannot be used without permission.

Here is how to update this notice from your theme customizer. First, go to Appearance >> Customize to open your theme’s customizer.

Go to Appearance in WP dashboard

On the customizer page, click on Footer Builder. This may differ depending on your WordPress theme.

Click on Footer Builder in Theme customizer

Next, click on Copyright under the General tab to edit the copyright text. You will see the changes in real-time. Once you’re done, hit the Publish button to save your changes.

Editing the Copyright of your website

Side note: Not all themes support changing the footer section from the customizer. If your theme doesn’t support it, you have two options. You can either edit the footer from the theme editor or use a plugin.

Updating Footer Credit Using Plugins

Changing the copyright from the theme editor requires some knowledge of PHP. We recommend using a plugin if you are not tech-savvy. You can use the Remove Footer Credit plugin to update the footer section of your theme.

After installing and activating the plugin, go to Tools >> Remove Footer Credit to open the plugin’s Settings page.

Click Remove Footer Credit to access plugin's page

On the “Step 1” textbox, enter the texts you want to change one word per line. So if your site footer credit reads “Copyright 2022 Brand name”, you should create new lines for each word on the textbox.

Update Copyright of your website using plugins

Following the same procedure, enter the text(s) you wish to replace your footer credit with in the “Step 2” textbox, i.e. one word per line. Finally, click on the Save button to update your changes.

Register Copyright For Your Website

Earlier we mentioned that WordPress sites are copyright protected by default. But taking the extra step to register your copyright offers your site advanced protection. This is a legal procedure you take to create a public record of your copyright.

Although copyright online registration isn’t compulsory, there are benefits to it. For starters, it allows you to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. You also get to collect statutory damages from the infringer.

To do this in the US, you will need to register online at the US Copyright Office. There, you will need to submit a properly filled copyright application form, a nonrefundable filing fee, and the content you want to protect. The content(s) is then given in a non-returnable deposit.

The deposit is a copy of the copyrighted work. So any content added to the website after the registration will not be included in the copyright. Therefore, it will be beneficial to renew your application at least once a year.

To begin the copyright registration, click the button that reads “Log in to the Electronic Copyright Office (eCo) Registration System”.

Click required link to start registration of copyright website

On the next page, click the Log in to eCo button. That will take you to the user login page.

Click the "Log in to eCo" button

As a new user, click the registration link to continue.

Click the registration link to continue

On the registration portal, fill in the required details and click the Next button below.

Fill in the required details in the registration portal

We recommend seeking legal advice from a reputable law firm if you are unsure of details to submit.

Further, the process to copyright your content will vary from country to country. You can do a search to find out the exact steps for your region.

Enable Trademark Protection

If your website becomes popular, you should consider trademarking your site name. Recall we stated that the copyright law does not cover your domain name. On the other hand, a trademark can protect your brand name, which can include your domain.

A trademark helps to identify your website and to protect your name against users who decide to create a website with a similar name. However, if your site name is similar to an already existing site, or uses generic words, it may be hard for it to be accepted. Still, it is worth a try.

To register a trademark in the US, head on to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. Once there, click the Search trademark database link.

Trademark search link - Copyright website

This search tool enables you to search if your blog name has already been taken, thus, giving you the opportunity to change it if need be.

On the next page, click the Search our trademark database (TESS) button. If the domain is not on their database, you can proceed to trademark your brand.

Click the Search our trademark database (TESS) button

For this, go back to the main page and click on Apply for a trademark to begin the trademark application process.

Trademark application link

If you are not sure about which form to fill, we recommend seeking professional help from a legal practitioner on the topic.

And if you want to trademark your brand name in another region, a search will enable you to find the information you need.

Send a Cease and Desist Letter

If someone uses your content without permission, here are some steps to take.

You can send the user a simple email asking them to take it down. But if they do not respond, you can then draft a cease and desist letter for infringement.

You can use the free online tools, Wonder.Legal or Rocket Lawyer to create one. However, to make it more formal, you can employ the service of a lawyer to draft one up.

Create a Terms of Use Page

This is another way to protect your website’s content. On this page, you can explain in detail how you want your content to be used. Spell out the rules and regulations users must abide by before accessing your content.

You also get to inform users of actions you will take if they abuse your website.

Bonus – Protecting your WordPress Content

To add an extra layer of protection, you can prevent users from copying content from your site. This applies to images and written content. Let’s go over how to achieve this.

Watermark your Images – Copyright Website

You’ve probably come across images that seem to have the owner’s name or transparent logo on them. These are called watermarks. It prevents users from copying or using your images without permission.

So if you have a lot of original artwork on your site, we recommend using a watermark to copyright your website images.

Protecting your Blog Content

As for written content, you can remove the ability to highlight and right-click content on your site.

However, this option isn’t always favorable. For example, you may want your visitors to be able to copy and share your content on social media. So you have to weigh the pros and cons and then decide.

There are plugins you can use to achieve this. The most common of them is WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click plugin. Simply install and activate it to begin protecting your web pages.

Final Thoughts on Website Copyright

In summary, adding a copyright notice to your website is recommended as it protects original content on your site. And if your site generates revenue, you should consider registering a copyright as well. This gives your content the necessary protection and deters infringers from stealing your hard work.

This article has shown you how to accomplish both, as well as other steps you can take to further secure your site.

Asides from copycats, you should also take steps to protect your WordPress site from cyber-attacks. To learn more about this, do check our guide on WordPress security.

 This post was written by Sam Mulaim

Hello! I’m Sam - the founder and CEO of FixRunner WordPress support. When I started FixRunner one of my goals was to help people run a successful website and overcome WordPress issues. I don’t have much time these days to write new posts but when I do I enjoy it very much.

Last edited by: FixRunner Team