By Karl Montevirgen, special to The Content Wrangler
Updating your website copyright notice is not a legal requirement. Although online content theft may be a common occurrence, it just so happens that anything you publish on your site is already considered copyrighted whether your copyright notice is current or not.
So why update it? Aside from maintaining a current claim of ownership over your web content, it’s simply a matter of smart marketing: it tells visitors that the information on your website is current; a small gesture perhaps, but one that makes a big impression.
What a current copyright notice tells your visitors
- Your website is active: a current copyright date lets visitors know that your website is neither asleep nor inactive. This is particularly important for websites that do not have dated content (e.g. blogs, scheduled events, etc.) or frequent updates. Your visitors will get a sense that both your website and business remain active even if your web content may be static.
- Your website is current: a current copyright date indicates that your website may be up to date with any developments taking place in your industry. As business environments undergo constant change due to competitor moves, market conditions, technological innovations, and regulatory developments, customers tend to be aware of the changes that affect their needs and preferences. Maintaining a current copyright date tells visitors that your website is being monitored actively, and that its content may be relevant to the current state of the industry.
- You care about your website and its viewers: whether you operate a traditional brick and mortar space or not, your website is your business’ virtual home. Keeping both your content and copyright notice current tells visitors that you care about your website and how it comes across to those who visit.
Interestingly, it’s not too difficult to find popular websites whose copyright notices are outdated. Take for instance, The San Francisco Symphony, one of the most successful and popular orchestras in the world.
One only has to view their events calendar or performance schedule to see that their activities are current and ongoing. Yet their copyright date is stuck in 2013.
Their performance-related content may be up to date, but what about the content for their other services (music education programs, community outreach, or store items)? Have there been any changes or updates since 2013? Short of any dated content, it’s really hard to tell.
Here’s another one: Finance Magnates is one of the top financial news websites in the foreign exchange industry. They have a large global audience ranging from small investors to large institutional finance professionals.
Now, this might not seem like such a big deal considering that at the time of this writing, 2015 had passed only a few weeks ago.
But again, it’s a news site, and most visitors would expect every bit of information to be current. Besides, just about every major financial new site including CNBC, Bloomberg, and Marketwatch all display current copyright dates.
These examples point to websites whose organizations are well established in their respective fields. If anything, their outdated copyright notices may be written off as a misstep in their web content management efforts; at worst, it indicates the possibility that they aren’t monitoring every aspect of their site.
However, for less-popular websites, particularly those with little or no dated content, outdated copyright notices may have a more negative impact. It can leave the impression that the site is dead; that the content might not be current or relevant; or that the organization may care little about the information presented on their site.
The good news is that maintaining a current copyright notice is much easier than you think.
Future-proof your website copyright notice by automating the process
To keep your copyright notice current, there’s really no need to set an alert on Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook for the end of each year. You can automate the process using simple code.
True to their motto, “friends don’t let friends look dead on the internet,” they also provide a means to share the codes with your friends and colleagues across various social media channels.
It’s really that simple. Now you have no excuse to let your copyright notice become outdated. Remember that although a copyright notice may serve to deter plagiarists from stealing your content, its effect in maintaining a current and relevant image of your site is just as important (if not more important) than its intended function.