How to Copyright Your Website
If you have created an eCommerce extension or an online tool, you can protect it from copyright infringement through patents.
This can also work for software, such as text-based HTML code, as well as website design.
Copyrighting Your Content
Copyright also protects your creative content, including photographs, written material, music, graphics and videos.
For business-related items, such as your name, logo, domain name and product name, you should register them as trademarks. Industrial design law will protect screen displays, computer-generated graphics and web pages.
Once trademarked, ensure your logo, name and content carries a trademark symbol, the copyright owner’s name and the year when it was first published.
It’s not necessary to register a trademark to obtain copyright protection, but doing so will help you to enforce your rights.
For the ‘hidden’ parts of your website, like source code, algorithms, technical descriptions, programs, logic flow charts and data base contents, these can be protected by trade secret law.
This applies if they’re not publicly disclosed, and you have ensured that reasonable steps have been taken to keep them confidential.
Protecting trade secrets
You should already have a staff handbook for your employees, outlining your business practices and procedures.
Within this document, you should also include a section on copyright and confidential business information.
This should feature a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement which protects your intellectual rights and property.
A way to disclose on your website about your copyright practices is to have a section or page that details your agenda. This should include a statement making it clear that you will prosecute anyone who breaches your copyright.
A lot of internet users assume material on websites can be freely used anywhere. This is not the case so make it clear to all visitors.
What if someone else developed your website?
Some businesses will pay a third party to build their website for them.
This is a perfectly legal practice, but there are steps you can take to protect your property in the future.
If your eCommerce website was developed by one of your employees during work time, then you, as the employer, would own the website’s copyright.
This would automatically be the case unless you agreed otherwise with your employee and should be stated in your business handbook or contract.
When you outsource your website build to an outside company, the rules may change.
You should never assume that you automatically own the IP rights to your website if you use a third party.
Many independent contractors own the IP rights of the works they have created, even if you have paid for the work.
To ensure the work is yours once it is complete, you must have a written contract clarifying who owns the copyright. This contract can include elements such as images, hyperlinks, and text coding.