101 Series – How to Copyright a Website

A common question we get from new businesses is how to copyright a website.  The U.S. Copyright Office does not expressly recognize websites as being copyrightable.  However, you can register the text, images, sounds, movies, computer code or even databases associated with a website or web page.

A website is generally considered to be an interconnected set of electronic pages which are located on a computer and are provided to the public across the internet.  They often contain multiple works such as text, artwork, photographs, music, videos or other copyrightable content which can be easily copyrighted.  The website may also be registered as a compilation or collective work in certain situations.

To register a website, you will need three things.  A completed application, a filing fee and a copy of the materials you wish to register.  Generally, each work to be protected must be registered separately; However, in some cases you may be able to file a single application for a group or collection of works.  Most people find that the most difficult part of the copyright application process is completing the application for copyright registration.

Because most websites are produced by a particular computer browser on a particular computer as visual and textual material, most website copyright applications are not registered with the actual computer code (typically HTML).  If there is a reason to register the computer code, the copyright application must only extend to the actual portion of the website computer code which was created by a human being and not the portion of the computer code which was written by a computer.

Contact one of our copyright attorneys to talk about how to copyright a website or we would be happy to talk with you about the various pros and cons about copyright registration and protecting your business website.