Website Copyright; how to protect your site content

Computer, Screen, Laptop, Technology, Programming


Copyright is an extremely complicated area of the law, to the extent that many law firms are set up specifically to deal with it. When you set up a website at the start of your new career of working for yourself, you obviously want to be sure that it is an excellent site which will bring a lot of traffic and ultimately a lot of business. Most people setting up as self employed these days have a website and it is worth spending a reasonable sum of your budget on making it as perfect as you can. The trouble with this is that it might be tempting for unscrupulous individuals to pinch your content to make their own website just as perfect. Don’t worry – there are some simple steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Although not strictly necessary in law to protect your copyright, it is a good idea to mark each page, each image and each downloadable item with a copyright notice. This can be quite small and needn’t interfere with the design, but it must either be visible or reached from a visible link. Since all it need say is ©self employment ideas 2012  or something similar, it needn’t detract. If images are part of your product and you don’t want them used for free, you can watermark them; they will then be unusable for anyone trying to get round the copyright. For an example of watermarking, many images on Google Images have watermarks.

Registering your website gives you a lot of protection, as it is proof that your website and its content were on the internet at a specific date. This means that anyone copying it will not be able to say that the content is theirs – their date will by definition be later than yours. There are many business legal issues which will crop up when you first begin to work for yourself, some more important than others, but registration is one of the easier ones to implement so you really should take the time to do this – you can do it online or by post. You can still change the content later. All you need do if anything changes – for example, if you become a limited company or start freelancing – you can update your registration just as easily.

Hopefully, these actions will prevent anyone plagiarising your website, but regular use of a tool such as Copyscape will help you check. If the worst does happen and someone copies your site, you will need to take action. The law is quite clear on the matter so you won’t have any trouble getting the site removed, but you will need to prove that an infringement has taken place, so you should take a copy of the offending site. There are various tools online to help you trace the culprit and hopefully that will end the matter, but if it goes further, there is plenty of law advice on this issue available.

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