Yes – copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship including content on a website. For example, original text, videos, graphics, animation, photographs, music, sound recordings, illustrations, translations and other original content featured on a website can be copyrighted.
Two ways to use copyright to protect original content on a website are: 1) to use a copyright notice on the website, and 2) copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.
A few points to keep in mind regarding copyrighting website content:
- Using a date range in the copyright notice may be beneficial if new content is posted periodically. For example, © 2011-2014 Ima Starr. All rights reserved.
- An application for copyright registration only covers the original content that is submitted with the application and will not include future updates.
- If content on the website is updated frequently, it may be a good idea to file new applications for copyright registration periodically, as needed.
- The author, creator, and owner of the content may or may not be the same person. This is an important component to consider and sort out before applying for copyright registration.
- If the website features original creative content such as books, music, jewelry designs, photographs, architectural designs, fabric designs, photographs or other original works of authorship it may be a good idea to also register these works with the U.S. Copyright Office before making them available on the website.
- Note, that copyright does not protect names, logos, titles or slogans. In some cases, these may be protectable as trademarks.
Here are links for more information on how to write a copyright notice, adding a copyright notice to a website and applying for copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: U.S. Copyright Office Circular 66 titled, Copyright Registration for Online Works at http://copyright.gov/circs/circ66.pdf and U.S. Copyright Office on “What does copyright protect” at http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#idea; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.