Whether it’s a blog, an article for publication or a massive novel, it should say:
© Copyright YEAR by YOURNAME, All Rights Reserved
The copyright symbol, if written in plain HTML is spelled © and will be turned into © by the reader’s browser. (In some web-based editors, you may need to switch between “Visual” and “Text” views or between different modes to enter this correctly.)
Here are some important things to know.
- All written works have an automatic and therefore implicit copyright whether you include one in writing or not. But some of your readers may not be aware of this and may, in ignorance, copy your work and re-use it. That would be wrong. So, by expressly stating your copyright, you are putting them on notice that this is yours and that they need to find out what “copyright” means before any such attempt.
- Brief quotations, ideally with an attribution and web link, are permissible from your work in other publications not written by you, and vice-versa, with or without permission or notice. (Personally, if I’m going to quote something from another blog, I will include a link to the entire article for readers to click, and over on the original blog, I’ll leave a comment that I have “cross-posted” to them from something I’ve written, and include a link to that work as well.)
- The entire work including text, photographs, drawings, embedded videos and so forth are covered by the copyright but since images and videos could be saved separately, copyright notices should also be affixed to them in some manner. By “in some manner” would include an invisible marking such as can often be added by an image editing program. It is stored in the image file as EXIF data along with exposure information and can be revealed by an EXIF viewer. But admittedly most of us don’t go to such lengths with our pictures, myself included. I would do so only if I had a one-of-a-kind and potentially valuable image. And in such a case I would not be putting the image out for public viewing. Most high volume publications such as newspapers and such want “First publication rights” — they want to be the first to show the picture. That makes an unpublished image all the more valuable. So while I would add an invisible copyright to the image, I wouldn’t show that image to the world. Instead, I’d be contacting editors of major publications and trying to sell it.
- For videos, a copyright statement in the title credits would be good.
- I try to make sure my copyright statement is clearly visible but not obnoxiously so. For example, it appears in the banner at the top of my blog and again at the very bottom. If an individual article is printed or viewed separately, it again appears in those two places. In blog-ese, these are the Header and the Footer.
- The copyright date for a work is when it was written, regardless of whether or not it is published. But blogging software such as WordPress and sites such as Blogger.com show an article’s publication date. If the date of authorship is significantly different, you might want to add yet another, explicit copyright notice for that specific article, but that presumes you think that article warrants that much protection. For my blog, the publication date is “close enough”.
- It will be up to the courts to decide if “Posted on date” is sufficient to establish a blog article’s copyright date, or if the court will say that the explicit copyright date is the operative entry. What this means is that, as time goes on and the Header and Footer are rolled forward to new years, the copyright statement will become long after the “Posted on” date. Anyone copying the work between those two dates would be interested in the court’s opinion in this regard. But for most normal people, it should be relatively obvious when you first wrote the article and when, therefore, the implicit copyright occurred — which would be on or before the publication date.
- As the holder of the copyright, that makes you the owner of that work. You may sell it, give it away with as few or as many rights as you wish, change it, publish it in a new form with a new copyright, etc. You own it and you can do with it just like any other item or idea you might have.
- Patents do not apply to written works. Computer software, although written, makes the computer do something. That’s why you can patent software but not a blog.
- If someone does violate your copyright, it is up to you to discover it, and it is up to you to enforce it. You should probably begin with a polite request that identifies the work as yours and state that it is subject to your copyright. You might offer to sell them the right to re-publish or give them the option of removing it. But beyond that, you’ll need an attorney and a court to enforce the copyright. You may decide that, for simple situations, it might be sufficient if the offender simply gives you credit, perhaps with a link to the original work on your web page.
Also, be sure to change the date every New Year in your blog’s Header and Footer.