The Internet has made it possible for a creative work to be distributed worldwide with a touch of a computer key. People who produce original works must use every legal mechanism to protect their interests against infringement. If you publish a website through a blogging service like Blogger.com, following the copyright notice requirements of the U.S. Copyright Act will help protect your original content from infringement and protect you from claims that you have infringed upon someone else's right.
There are two types of copyright notices, sometimes called disclaimers, that are used with websites. The first informs the public that the owner of the website claims a copyright in the original posted material. This notification does not affect the existence of the copyright. Notice simply prevents an infringer from claiming that he innocently used the material without knowing that its use was restricted. The second is a notice that provides contact information for the website owner in case someone claims a copyright in posted material. If the copyright holder is able to contact the website owner and the owner removes the material as requested, he can avoid liability for infringement in many instances.
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A copyright notice to protect a website's content can be anything that conveys the fact that someone claims authorship and rights in the work. A simple notice that can be used on a website like Blogger.com is "Copyright (c) [name of the person or entity that holds the copyright] – All Rights Reserved." This information can be placed at the bottom of each page or on a dedicated web page. You can also use more extensive language that addresses additional copyright issues, such as licensing, data mining, use permissions and enforcement of copyright. Appropriate language to provide contact information to people claiming copyright infringement can be any variation of "If you believe any material on this website infringes on your copyrights, please report this to [person's name] at [email address] or [physical address]."
Blogger.com enables users to create a personal blog using templates and its web page design tools. You can include a copyright disclaimer on a Blogger.com site by inserting the language into a footer that will appear on every page or by creating a menu link to a dedicated web page that contains all of the copyright information in one place. The Blogger.com template designer includes a footer field. Anything that is placed in the footer field will appear on the bottom of any page that uses that template. If you prefer to use CSS to code your own design, a footer is a class attribute that is part of the page element tags. If you decide to create a dedicated page for all copyright information, highlight the word "Copyright" and use the "link" feature to connect a menu item to the page that contains the relevant content.
Including copyright disclaimers on your Blogger.com website can provide you with recourse if someone steals your work and protect you if you accidentally post something that belongs to someone else. Keep in mind, however, that the only way to initiate a copyright infringement case is to sue in federal court, and you can only sue in federal court if you have a valid copyright registration with the U.S Copyright Office. If you have not registered your copyright, you still own it and can send a letter asking someone to stop using it. If she refuses and you haven't registered a copyright, there is nothing you can do about it. Likewise, a copyright disclaimer that provides your contact information in case of an infringement claim against you will only protect you if the contact information is current and leads to a person who knows how to respond under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
- Blogger: Page Element Tags for Layouts
- Blogger: Blogger Template Designer
- Citizen Media Law Project: Copyright Registration and Notice
- U.S. Copyright Office: Copyright Basics
- Freenetlaw: Free Copyright Notice
- Thesis Theme HQ: Make Sure Your Site Has Copyright, Privacy, Disclosure and Disclaimer Information
Terry Masters has been writing for law firms, corporations and nonprofit organizations since 1995, specializing in business topics, personal finance, taxation, nonprofit issues, and general legal and marketing content creation for the Internet. Terry holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a minor in finance.