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What Is The Proper Way to Display a Copyright Notice?

We’ve all see the little C inside a circle, the symbol for Copyright. But when and where are you supposed to use it? I’ve seen it on individual blog posts, pasted into article resource boxes, and even on a few custom headers. After doing a little research, I have the answer. You might be surprised to learn….

copyright notice

You really don’t need to use it at all! Yes. I know. It freaked me out, too. Especially when you see that little bugger everywhere you turn. And now I find out it’s not even necessary. Hold on. Let me explain.

That little symbol used to be necessary but the laws have changed – all over the world. Now, the second you publish anything the copyright is immediately yours. Sound a little hard to believe? Yeah. I thought so, too. Sorry. But I just don’t trust it. That’s why you still see a copyright symbol on my blog and you’ll always see it on anything I publish anywhere else, too.

Now, what’s the proper way to display the copyright symbol?

Well, since you don’t actually need it anymore I suppose you could throw it up there in your header or even use it for tiled background image. Personally, though, I prefer the old tried-and-true…

If you don’t have the little © symbol you can type it out like this:

Copyright 2013 Stephane Kerwer or Copyright 2013 Dukeo.com

If you do have the little © symbol, you can set it up like this:

© 2013 Stephane Kerwer or © 2013 Dukeo.com

The symbol, or the word “copyright” always comes first, followed by the year of publication, followed by either your name or the name of your website.

If your copyrighting a publication that includes content published over a period of years, then specify those years as follows:

Copyright 2009 - 2013 Stephane Kerwer or Copyright 2009 - 2013 Dukeo.com

© 2009 - 2012 Stephane Kerwer or © 2009 - 2012 Dukeo.com

If you’re on a PC, the keyboard shortcut for the copyright symbol is alt + ctrl + C. If you on a MAC it’s OPTION + G. Or, you can go to your Word Processing program, open a new text document, then click on Insert ? Special Character ? and scroll down, find the symbol and click. If you need the character for another platform you can then copy and paste it from your Word document.

If you’re worried about protecting your content from being plagiarized online and possibly resulting in duplicate content, you really don’t need to worry. Duplicate content refers to content that’s used in more than one place on the same blog or website. However, that “copy” out there could water down your rankings. Contact the site owner and ask them to remove your content and if they refuse, file a DMCA with Google.

Go ahead and display a copyright notice and back it up by getting a Google Author account. Simply register and set up your profile and then link to your About Me page on your blog. That reinforces for the Google bots that you are the original creator of that content and if they see it posted somewhere else it helps protect your ranking.

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11 Comments (Add one)

  1. Suzanne Carter

    Good blog topic. A lot of businesses forget to update their copyright date so it looks like they haven’t updated their site for several years. Mind you, in many cases that actually may be true!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Well, even if that’s the case Suzanne, it always looks better to have your Copyright notice up-to-date ;)

  2. Frank Woodman Jr

    Copyright and how to handle it and the always present possibility of your content being used without your consent or credit is always a confusing issue. And I’m glad to see a simple break down of the current law and what is required. But I’m with you and I think that I will continue to use the old standard copyright posting format as I still think it’s best to be safe over being surprised by something you could have prevented. And your advice on using Google Author is certainly something I need to start doing more consistently. Google Author is a great tool that helps with both ranking and copyright issues and so should be used for all our sites.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Google authorship is really a great thing… It increases the click-through rate of your links in the search engines. Regarding content theft, unfortunately, we have all had to face it at some point…

  3. Tina Maxwell
    Tina Maxwell

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. I favorited.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Good to hear

  4. Jules
    Jules

    I use a script I found to auto update the dates on my copyright statement in the footer of my website:


    1. Sté Kerwer

      You don’t need a complicated script to do that…

      This will do the work: < ?php echo date('Y'); ?>

  5. Tracey - Life Changing Year

    Thanks so much for this info. I’ve always wondered whether to show the whole date period or whether it should be just the current year but it didn’t seem like something worth my time to research. And as Suzanne said above – it does make it look like sites haven’t been updated for years when they forget to change their copyright notice!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Absolutely! When a site displays a copyright notice in 2003, very often I don’t bother digging further.

  6. Malika Bourne

    Steve, your post was so inspiring. I just researched and wrote two blog posts
    I hope it is OK,I added your link from this post on both blogs.
    My son told me how to use HTML for the copyright symbol
    My blog has a permanent copy right. but I have found the need to begin to add it
    thanks for the inspiration. Malika