Website Copyright Registration

By Michelle Norton
The copyright symbol does not have to appear on a work for it to be copyrighted.
sign of the copyright, silver bevel symbol image by PaulPaladin from

Copyright happens as soon as something is written down or created by someone according to the U.S. Copyright Office. However, to further protect your work you can register copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. While it does not prevent someone from stealing the work, registering the copyright of a website gives you proof of ownership. Not everything can be copyrighted and copyrighting a website only applies to the text as written and the layout at the time of registration.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright protects the original work of authors of literature, drama (plays and screenplays), music and art. The protection extends to all work whether or not it is published. The author has the right to allow or restrict copies and derivative works, distribution, performance (in any medium) and displays of the work. It is illegal to do any of these things without permission but there are limitations.


Copyright law has limitations to allow for the proliferation of original work, which might be hampered if the law were too strict. According to section 107 of the Copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code), Fair Use allows limited use of a work in small amounts, such as quotes and reviews. Copyright can only be held for 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation, whichever is shorter.

Not Protected by Copyright

A work must be recorded, or written down, to be copyrighted. Titles, names, short phrases and slogans may not be copyrighted. Symbols and designs considered to be public domain, typographic ornamentation, lettering, color, lists of contents and ingredients may not be copyrighted. Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries and devices may not be copyrighted. A written or recorded documentation of these things may be copyrighted.

Works of common property with no original authorship may not be copyrighted.

Copyright is only protected internationally as long as the laws of the country allow for copyright protection.

Copyright on the Internet

Copyright on the Internet is only available to the original creator of the work or to the owner of the rights to the work. The copyright of a website includes the content, images and design but not the underlying code of the website.

Registering a Website

The copyright symbol, the name of the person or entity that holds the copyright and the year must appear on the page you want to register. You actually have copyright of your work without this, but registration normally requires that the copyright symbol appear on the work for the registered copy. A copy of the work must be submitted on disk and in printed form for the registration to the U.S. Copyright Office. Online registration is $35, and registration by mail is $50. Updates to a website must be registered separately with every update. Registrations and digital copies on disk may be sent to :

Congressional Courier Acceptance Site (CCAS)

2nd and D Streets, N.E.

Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Native of Colorado and single mom, I’ve been designing websites for over 16 years. I am fluent in HTML, CSS and web standards. I work with Wordpress, Drupal, and other content management systems. I have extensive social media experience and have been integrating analytics, web sites and social media for years. I have designed for non-profits, corporations and artists. Give me a text editor and code to write and I’m content.