What is the meaning of copyright? How does a copyright disclaimer work? And how do you write one?
In this post, we’ll go through all these questions and show you how to write a proper copyright statement for your original work!
First of all, let’s start with some definitions: what is copyright, exactly?
Copyright is essentially the “right to copy.” Once you’ve created an original work and fixed it in a tangible medium (for example, a photograph, a song, or a computer program), you are the author and the owner of your work and thus have the exclusive right to use it.
Copyright is automatically granted when you publish your original work, and – ideally – your name should be cited anytime someone shares or uses your content. But unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to prove or enforce ownership, especially when it comes to online content.
Here’s where copyright disclaimers go on stage.
A copyright disclaimer is a simple notice stating your name, the date, and a statement of rights. Its purpose is to inform people that the original content you’ve created belongs to you because you are the author.
This article is a part of our series on compliance for bloggers and web publishers. Read also:
However, there can be some exceptions to copyright, allowing people to use your content lawfully.
For example, the Copyright Law of the United States mentions fair use as one. According to Article 107, people can use copyrighted content for the following reasons:
And these are not considered copyright infringements.
Therefore, you’ll enjoy US-copyright rights when your work is being used (or infringed upon) in the US, Italian copyright in Italy, and so on.
Now that you’ve made it this far, it’s time to get things done.
If instead, you’re looking to create a more in-depth document that covers every aspect of copyright – who’s the owner of the content, how people are allowed to use and share your content, or any disclaimer of liability – you can use this copyright disclaimer template as a guide.
[Your Company/Organization Name] Copyright Disclaimer
This Copyright Disclaimer (“Disclaimer”) sets forth the rights, limitations, and obligations concerning the use of copyrighted materials owned by [Your Company/Organization Name] (“Owner”). By accessing or using any materials, content, or intellectual property owned by the Owner, you acknowledge and agree to the terms of this Disclaimer.
Copyright Ownership: [This section should contain details on the ownership of the materials and content on your site. See sample text] All materials, content, and intellectual property, including but not limited to text, images, graphics, logos, audio, video, and software, made available on [Your Company/Organization Name]’s website, publications, or other platforms, are protected by copyright laws and owned by the Owner unless otherwise stated.
Permission for Personal Use: [This section should include licensing information and your rules for the use of your content. It’s important to be precise here. We highly recommend either consulting with a legal professional or using a generator created by legal professionals like our Terms and Conditions Generator] You may view, download, or print copyrighted materials from [Your Company/Organization Name]’s platforms solely for personal, non-commercial use.
Disclaimer of Liability: [Here you should include any statements that limit your liability. Again, as these documents tend to be legally binding, we do recommend using a professional solution.] The Owner shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, or special damages arising out of or in connection with the use of copyrighted materials, including but not limited to errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in the content or loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any copyrighted material.
Modification and Termination: [Here you should include your rules and rights when it comes to modifying or terminating this copyright disclaimer. Consider things like your method (if any) of updating users to changes to your disclaimer].
By accessing or using any copyrighted materials owned by [Your Company/Organization Name], you acknowledge and agree to abide by the terms of this Copyright Disclaimer. If you do not agree with any of these terms, please refrain from accessing or using the copyrighted materials.
For any inquiries regarding this Copyright Disclaimer, please contact [Your Company/Organization Name] at [contact information].
Date: [Date] [Your Company/Organization Name] [Address] [City, State, ZIP] [Website]
This is a general and basic template and must be customized to fit your specific circumstances and requirements. As mentioned, because these are legally binding documents, we highly recommend consulting with legal professionals or using a generator created by legal professionals to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Once you’ve written it, you can add your copyright statement to your website’s footer. It’s where disclaimers are usually placed.
Alternatively, you can add a copyright statement in your About Us or Contact page, since it’s where visitors are likely to look for information about you, or in the sidebar of your website.
Another way to include copyright disclosures is through a Terms and Conditions document, which will help you protect your content in a legally binding way.
Simple sentences are often not enough to protect your content and intellectual property. That’s why stating your Terms are important. Set things like licensing, Creative Commons, limitations of liability and more.
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Please note that it is important to write your own copyright notice that accurately reflects the content on your website to protect yourself from any potential legal issues. But let’s take a look at an example taken from the website of The Guardian:
Now let’s go over a few more examples.
As you can see, all these copyright statements follow the same structure, the one we highlighted in our template above. They all have the copyright symbol (©), the name of the company that owns the rights for the content, the year or year range, and a statement of ownership. Moreover, all these disclaimers examples are placed in the website’s footer.
Please note, a website isn’t the only place where you may need a copyright statement. For example, these disclaimers are often used in YouTube videos, Facebook posts and emails, especially if you’re using copyrighted content that does not belong to you. Let’s have a closer look at each one of them.
You would need a copyright notice for YouTube in two cases:
Here’s a copyright disclaimer example for YouTube:
As with YouTube, you may need a copyright statement on Facebook when you’re sharing or posting copyrighted material on your Facebook page or profile.
A Facebook copyright disclaimer example could state:
No copyright infringement is intended. I do not own nor claim to own the rights to any of the [type of content] shared.
A copyright statement is not usually needed in emails, as copyright law generally applies to the use and distribution of creative works.
However, if you are including copyrighted material in an email, such as an attachment that contains copyrighted images or text, you may want to include a notice in your email to indicate that you are using the material in a way that is allowed under copyright law.
You can do this by including a citation or attribution in your email. An email copyright disclaimer example could state: “Image by [name of copyright holder]” or “Excerpt from [name of book] by [name of author].”
Even though a copyright statement is a good starting point in protecting your content, we can’t guarantee that it will be enough. Original online content is often used without permission when not stolen and repurposed with a different author’s name.
Anyway, you could still do one thing to be even safer: you could create your Terms and Conditions document! See 5 reasons why you need Terms and Conditions here →
You can decide how people may use your content through Terms and Conditions. Terms also allow you to add disclaimers and limitation of liability clauses to protect yourself against the misuse of your content.
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