How to Copyright Your Website?

Several aspects of the website can be protected individually under the India Copyright Act, 1957. The original content of your website, including written words and images, are protected by copyright the moment they are created. However, to further fortify the protection, the same can be registered.

Registering a Copyright for Your Website

To be very clear, there is no such thing as a copyrigh for a website. A website is made up of various elements, and each of these elements will be treated individually to receive protection. The different elements of your website (that qualify for copyright protection) immediately receive protection the moment they are created.

For instance, you would have to identify individual elements in your website such as graphical elements, textual content, and images while seeking copyright registration.  

This means that when a third-party wants to use elements from your website, they would have to seek your permission first.

Why Copyright?

Despite a copyright protection, not everyone would seek your permission before using your work. While you can send notices and warnings in such instances of unfair use, you can’t sue for damages on infringement unless you have a copyright registration.

Registration also lets you keep the credit for the work created. Registration will not stop other people from using your work. It is still your responsibility to identify infringers. However, a copyright registration serves as prima facia evidence and lets you create a base for legal recourse.   

Related: Step by Step Copyright Registration Process in India

3 Steps of Copyright Registration for a Website  

Copyright Registration for a website is filed by the creator. If the website is made for hire, then the creators usually relinquish all their rights and transfer the same to the person who hired them.

Only the copies of work filed at the time of registration are protected as a registered copyright under the Copyright Act. New content will have to be registered separately if needed. 

Step 1: Filing the Application

The application form is to be filled along with the supporting documents (such as copies of work) and proof of creation. The application would have to be filed with the Indian Copyright Officer, with the application fees.

Once filed, a diary number is generated to track the status of the application

Step 2: Examination

Once the application is filed, a mandatory waiting period of 30 days is to be observed for objections against the copyright material. This can lead to the following scenarios:

No Objection

If no objections are raised, the application proceeds to be examined by the examiner. If there is any discrepancy in the application, the applicant will be given an opportunity to justify his case and will be subject to a hearing if deemed necessary. If there are no discrepancies, the examiner will let the copyright material proceed for registration.

Objections Filed

In case an objection is filed against the mark, the authorities would ask the concerned parties to reply with the necessary proof and evidence, which is followed by the hearing before the registrar. Depending on the hearing, the registrar either accepts or rejects the application for copyright.

Once the application is accepted it’s treated as a ‘no objections’ application and the same process follows for the examination of the application. 

Step 3: Registration

The registration of a copyright depends entirely on the Registrar. Once all the formalities and examination is concluded from the registrar’s side, the copyright is registered. The ownership of the registered copyright grants certain legal rights that the applicant can then exercise.

Elements of Your Website that can be protected by Copyright

Not all Intellectual Property elements of your website fall under the purview of the copyright law.  Here is a look at what can and what cannot be protected.

Textual and Visual Content

The moment you create and upload original content on your website it receives copyright protection.

This includes originally written sections of your website such as blogs and product description pages. Note that factual information such as legal disclaimers cannot be protected by copyright

Original images, videos, drawings, and graphical elements also receive protection

More on: Trademark Vs Copyright - What Protects What?

Website Design

Web page designs and layouts created using coding or computer readable language is protected by a copyright the minute it is created. So, the same can be registered as well.

Note that for purchased website design layouts you would have the read the terms and conditions of the purchase to understand what rights were vested to you through the purchase.

Brand Name and Logos

While original works that fall under the category of literary and artistic works can be protected by copyright, brand elements like Brand name, logo, and slogans cannot be protected through a copyright registration. So, in case you have unregistered brand elements on your website, you must only go in for a trademark registration.

More on: How to Protect your Artwork from being Copied?

When Should You Consider Registering Your Website?

  • If your website contains original ideas and the valuable information that generate revenue.
  • When there are several third-party sites duplicating your content and have started looking and sounding like your website.
  • If you have started losing revenue and sales due to duplication of content.

Add a Fair Warning

To make sure that people are aware that your website is copyright protected, you can include a footnote at the bottom of the site such as - © Your Name 2018. If you have registered your copyright, then you footnote can include the added layer of protection - © Your Name 2018. All Rights Reserved.

The original content of your website is protected even without a copyright registration. Without a registration, you can contact infringers and stake your rights over them. Copyright protection an important intellectual property asset for commercial business sites as it also allows the owner to sue for damages. If you’re unsure if your website content needs protection, you can always seek a professional opinion to be doubly sure.

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