Does copyright law protect web page content?

Whether your business focuses on local clientele or has an international reach, chances are you have a company website that provides information on your products and services. Your site may also contain unique content, such as blog posts, whitepapers or news articles. Protecting the rights to your digital content may seem more difficult than invoking copyright protection for traditional printed materials. However, United States law makes it clear that copyright protections apply to web page content as well as printed media.

A FindLaw article states that the digital content on a website generally has the same type of copyright protection as original printed material, such as books, songs or news stories. According to the article, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 explicitly states that digital materials published on the internet enjoy copyright protection. As such, your company likely owns the copyright to the text, pictures, videos and other content on your website. Legally, others must get your permission before copying the content and posting it elsewhere.

Although the idea of copyright protection for web page content seems clear, it may not be easy to enforce in real life. The internet is notorious for being a place where it is easy for many people to steal original content and then repost it as their own work. You may choose to combat this practice by going through the process to get copyright protection for your entire site as a whole. While the text and content of a website generally have legal protection, there may be other requirements a website must meet before the U.S. Copyright Office recognizes it as a copyrightable work in its entirety.

This information about copyright law is intended to be educational in nature; it should not be taken as legal advice.

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