Reading time: 5 minutes

You can copyright a website you have made as long as the content is original to you or you are the copyright owner. Further, you can copyright individual material you have created and signal that your website as a whole is copyrighted. However, there are mistakes you must avoid when copyrighting your website. This is because you want to ensure that you have copyrighted it correctly to avoid confusion or conflict. This article will first define copyright and then outline mistakes to avoid when copyrighting your website.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is automatic protection that applies to original works under these categories:

  • literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; 
  • the typographical layout of published works; 
  • sound recordings; 
  • films; and
  • communication works.

Copyright is an intellectual property tool, but you cannot register copyright, unlike other intellectual property tools in New Zealand. This means that as the copyright owner, it is up to you to signal that your work is original and belongs to you. You can do this by using the © symbol and communicating your rights to others if you think they have infringed them. 

Your rights and protections as a copyright owner are:

  • exclusive access to your material;
  • the right to define who else can access your material; and
  • legal protection.

The copyright owner is usually the creator, but there are some circumstances where this can change. For example, if your employer hires you to create the copyrighted material, they will likely be the owner. This should be outlined in any employment contract you have.

Avoid Copyrighting Your Website Incorrectly

Protecting your website from being copied can be challenging. Even though copyright protection is automatic in New Zealand, it is good to include the © symbol where possible. It is also a good idea to have a copyright notice somewhere visible on your website. This can look like ‘COPYRIGHT 2021 [insert copyright holder details]’. This will prevent people from overstepping your copyright. Other countries may not have the same automatic copyright protection, so a copyright notice like this will help protect your website internationally.

You can also consider embedding restrictions so that others cannot save or copy your website’s content. This could involve hiding the source code or functionality of your website. You can do this yourself if you know how or hire someone else to do it.

Be Aware of Passing Off

If you own intellectual property, like a website, you should be aware of passing off. Passing off is when one business misuses the strong reputation of another business for financial gain. If you find that another website is very similar to yours, this could lead to your customer base getting confused and buying from the other business, thinking that it is yours. This is considered passing off and could be copyright infringement.

Always Enforce Your Rights 

If you find that someone else has copied your copyrighted website, you can take action. You can send them a letter of demand for breach of copyright. This will outline that you are the copyright owner and aware of the breach. It will also request them to stop and remove their infringement. If you need to take further steps, you can pursue legal action as you are protected by copyright law. It is best to seek legal advice in these circumstances as an experienced lawyer will know what to do.

Moral Rights

In addition, when enforcing your copyrighted website, you should be aware of moral rights. Even if your website is copyrighted and you own your website’s content, you still need to adhere to moral rights. Moral rights are granted to copyright material creators and stay with them even when they no longer have copyright ownership. Moral rights that you should be aware of are the right:

  • to attribution;
  • of integrity;
  • against derogatory treatment; and
  • to privacy in certain photos and videos.

Key Takeaways

Copyrighting your website is the right thing to do if you want to protect it. You can take steps to show others that your content is safeguarded. There are factors to be aware of when you are copyrighting your website. These are factors such as passing off, enforcement and moral rights. If you need further assistance with your intellectual property, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does copyright last?

Copyright duration depends on the kind of work it applies to. For example, copyright for literary and artistic works lasts for the creator’s lifetime plus 50 years.

Do I have to use the © symbol?

No, you do not have to use the © symbol to gain all of the rights and protections of copyright.

What is a copyright notice?

A copyright notice is another symbol you can use to mark your copyrighted material. It often looks like this: ‘COPYRIGHT 2021 LEGALVISION’.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards