In the present highly competitive economy and fast-paced world, your business website is indeed the most valuable asset for almost every aspect ranging from marketing and sales to customer service. Hence, it is necessary to protect it in the same way you would protect your other business property. You can go ahead with copyrighting your website, for which there is a step-by-step procedure to be followed. Just like trademark and patent, your business website is your Intellectual Property (IP). You can efficiently protect your website’s domain name, graphics, images, business logo, etc.
According to the US Copyright Office, a website refers to a webpage or a set of interconnected web pages along with the homepage, fixed together on a computer or server, and prepared and managed as a collection of relevant information provided by a business company, organization, or individual.
Under the Copyright Law, Copyright Protection extends only to the original works fixed in a tangible means of expression. A website can obtain copyright protection only if the work is original, clearly described, and owned by the applicant. Copyright protection is available for all the content on a website, including blog posts, videos, music, literature, news articles, to name a few. To be specific, you can obtain a copyright for what’s already there on your website. Furthermore, the US Copyright Office has clearly stated that the Copyright Registration extends only to the content specified in its application. Any content added to the website at a later stage, or any updates made world require a separate registration.
As the links to other websites don’t reside on your website, you can’t obtain copyright protection for them. Nevertheless, it is possible to copyright the internal links of your website. Any work in the public domain is owned by no one, due to which, you can’t copyright them as well. User-generated content is the one that users put or upload on your website in the form of feedback or comments, and they only own the copyright to their contributions. Besides, as the owner of your business website, you can’t copyright your plans for a future website, ideas, functional elements, layout, format, domain names, hypertext links, design, or the appearance of your website. Common and unoriginal material, including icons, or familiar names, symbols are not subject to copyright protection.
WHO OWNS THE COPYRIGHT?
It is imperative to distinguish clearly between the employee of a business company who writes the content for the website and an independent content writer hired for the same purpose. The employee, who has written the content doesn’t own it, in fact, in this scenario – the company does. On the other hand, the independent contractor or content writer hired by a company owns the content he or she has written, for which the company needs to have an agreement and get the exclusive license of using the content.
It is essential to make a point of the fact that if you have an outside hosting company for your business website, your copyright stays unaffected. The hosting company or the company whose server your business website resides with – doesn’t have to be owned by you; however, you must have a backup of all your website data in case the hosting company destroys or crashes it accidentally.
PROTECTING DOMAIN NAMES, LOGOS, AND IMAGES
A domain name refers to a unique identifier on the Internet in the form of “http://www.domainname.extension” such as “http://www.domainanonymous.com” – by registering your domain name, you will get an exclusive business name. The appearance of your logo is different from the content available on your website, for instance, Google’s multicolored letter ‘G.’ You can go ahead with Trademark Registration of your business logo if you wish to protect it. Additionally, you can also copyright the original images of your website or at least make sure that if your using images, your use isn’t subject to plagiarism.