3 Legal Myths Non-lawyers are Telling You Online

Myth #1:

You need to update your copyright date in the footer of your website

Raise your hand if you’ve been told the date at the bottom of your website in your copyright notice is supposed to be the CURRENT year.

…this is incorrect.

And in fact, may actually cost you your legal rights to some of your IP. Do you see book authors going back and updating their book covers to update the copyright notice?? NO, right? Your content should be the same! Read on…

So the purpose of the date in your copyright notice (which is the thing at the bottom of your website that says ©2020 Coach Legally LLC. All Rights Reserved) is to put the public on notice of the date or dates in which you published the work you are seeking to protect.

(In other words, when did you write the content you are wanting to protect??)

If you just launched your website and are only claiming ownership of the work on your website as of 2021, then it’s okay for it to be the current year.

If the content you’re wanting to protect is from last year, or another year, put that year and DO NOT UPDATE IT, or otherwise change the date for any reason, no matter who tells you you’re supposed to.

If your website includes content that spans across multiple years – like maybe a blog you’ve written throughout the last 5 years (and counting), you’ll want to do a date span, beginning with the first date you published anything on your website, and ending with the current year. THIS is something you will want to update as the years progress…JUST the end date in a date span.

So, why am I freaking out about NOT updating the copyright date, when your website includes work you have done in previous years? Because you will effectively REMOVE your rights for any year other than the year that is in the footer. So if your website says Copyright 2021, but in fact you wrote the blog posts beginning in 2019, you will be telling the public that you are claiming ownership of the work only as of 2021.

This gets even worse if you run into a copycat, and catch someone copying and pasting parts or all of your blog posts, online courses, or any other content on your website. When you go to prove to them that you are the original owner of the work, your copyright notice will actually disprove your claim, if the copyright date is the current year. And if the copycat lifted your work last year…guess what? Now it looks like YOU copied THEM. (It is potentially fixable through some kinds of website history software or platforms which allow you to see what was posted on each website in the past. However, the initial evidence will point to YOU as the copier, against them, the seemingly original owner.)

Copyright questions? Comment below or contact me via the contact page, and ask away! 

Make sure to come back next Monday for Myth #2!!

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