Copyright year rules please

Hello to all.

Well being a new year I am wondering how to adjust my copyright for my site. If I built my site in 2008, would I change it to now say copyright 2009 or

copyright 2008-2009

As you have to track the year you first started it and then which ever year it is?

Thanks for your help


If (big if there) I remember correctly you only need the current year to satisfy any legal ramifications. I know some of the big corps do year - year but I’m not sure that’s required for web pages. Personally I change all mine each year.

No copyright notice is required at all. That you are the one who wrote it is enough to give you copyright. What copyright notice you specify on the page if any is up to you. The only relevant date with regard to copyright on the material you created is the date that you died since it is a specific number of years after that date that your copyright ceases and your writing enters the public domain (the exact number of years varies between countries).


The copyright year in the footer is supposed to be the original year that the content was created and does not need an end-year or to be updated as you maintain copyright into the future.

I remember reading information on why not to update the year (if your copyright says 2009 even though you created the content in 2007 then someone could come back and say that they’ve had the content on their site since 2008 which was before you claimed copyright on the materials or the such).

So if I have a vbulletin forums, should I keep the copyright stating that the site was first made in 2008, but post it like Copyright 2008-2009 That way the content I did in 2008 is covered and any new content for this year?

Thanks to all

hmm, that would make sense but having a different copyright for each page of the site can be a real pain in the but on dynamics sites so maybe the first year - current year would be the best

Is it a pain in the ***? Sure…

But the truth of the matter is that pages created in different years do gain copyrights in different years so having just the current year on your entire site would be incorrect as well.

Honestly, if you want real copyright protection you need to register your works with the copyright office anyway so they will have the appropriate date on file. For most of us a generic copyright notice is probably sufficient anyway even though it’s not legally required.

Generally, you don’t have to have copyright notice and you don’t have to file with the Copyright Office to hold copyright on anything you’ve created (though it is advisable to be able to prove the date that any changes took place in case you need to register with the Copyright Office in order to prosecute someone for violation).

That being said, I generally advise my clients that they post copyright notice with the first year that the site was created through the current year. It would read like this:

© 2005-2009 XYZ, Inc. All Rights Reserved

If you want more information on copyright notice you can check out my blog post on the topic at

If you have other questions, please feel free to contact me…


Any opinions are offered without knowledge of the specific law of your jurisdiction and with only the limited information provided in your post. No advice given here should be reasonably relied upon by you or any third party without consulting an attorney who is aware of all of the facts and law surrounding your situation. Any advice given here is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship in any way.

Another great post, Deena!

I might add that the legal aspects aside, an ‘updated’ copyright year span notice (i.e. one spanning from the year of the sites creation to the current year) adds a sense of authority (if the site is old) and makes it appear that the site is updated more frequently.

Great insight thanks so much. I like how you put it and how it seems to work.


I think having (c) 2005 on the web makes the site or content look a little stale and neglected. It may well be correct, but I’d tend to go with the year created - current year format.

That would tend to indicate that the page hadn’t been updated since. If you are going to specify the dates in a copyright notice then you want both the year the page was first created and the year the page was last updated.

It is always a plus to give notice to the world that you protect your copyrights. Deena is dead -on in her recommendation.

Well it does stop those people who are ignorant of how copyright works from stealing your work without realising that they are stealing it.