Whether intentional or
of intellectual property represents a real danger for everyone
who publishes virtually anything on the Internet.
As more people set up shop
online, many of them worry about having their words, articles, or
other intellectual property stolen by others.
If you operate a website, or
publish anything on the Internet,you
need to understand what you do and do not own with respect to that
Failure to do so can result
in very nasty situations and costly misunderstandings.
Virtually every day people ask
me this question when it comes to copyrighting their material,
either the website or a publication of some kind. They ask something
like "Do I need to formally copyright my ebook, website, article,
special report or some other publication?"
The answer quite simply: It depends!
I'm not a lawyer, however I do know that
when you write something down or type it into your word processor,
you automatically enjoy protection under U.S. and international
copyright laws. In short, as soon as you write it down
you own it.
However, the online world has made it easier
than ever to steal someone else's work, whether intentionally or
not. To the degree you want to protect your copyright will dictate
how formal you make the copyright process for your written works.
1. simply put a copyright notice on
your material and
leave it or
2. fill out some forms, send
your work off to the Library of Congress (along with a check) and
have your work formally copyrighted.
I regularly do both with my
However, just because you go through the
formal copyright process, enforcement of your copyright will
ultimately come down to your ability to find someone violating your copyright and pursuing it yourself.
In other words, first you must find someone
violating your copyright online and then take appropriate action to
make them stop. No online police force exists to patrol the web
looking for "violators!"
You start entering the gray areas when it
you consider copywriting an actual website. Nobody owns the HTML
tags it takes to display a web page on the Internet. However,
someone can certainly own copyright to the words displayed on a
So, does that mean it's okay to download
somebody else's website, take the words off, and substitute your own
words using their framework of HTML and graphics?
Someone can also hold the rights to graphics
and codes they pay someone else to create for them and display on
The U.S. Copyright Office offers a complete
collection of information about how to copyright your information.
Log on to
for the most comprehensive
guide you will find anywhere online.
=-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Jim Edwards and
Bruce Safran are co-creators of "The Online Marketer's & Website
Owner's Legal Information Clinic" -- the authoritative guide
protecting yourself and your website against needless harassment,
lawsuits, and other legal problems.