how to copyright your wordpress blog

You’re probably already familiar with copyrights. You’ll generally find them at the bottom of most websites and apps. Still, if you don’t have any experience creating or using copyrights, then the process might seem a little confusing., and you may be wondering how to copyright a blog.

Without a copyright, you leave your WordPress blog open to online thieves who might try and use your content as their own.

Luckily, securing your WordPress blog with a copyright doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult.

There are multiple methods to employ a copyright, which we’ll get into below. Keep reading to learn what a website copyright is, how to copyright a blog, and finally, the different types of copyrights you can use to protect your WordPress blog.

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Why Should I Use a Website Copyright?

Here’s something that may surprise you: once you launch your WordPress blog or a website, it’s automatically granted with a copyright.

This built-in copyright means people need to ask for your permission to use your content unless it’s properly attributed back to you. Unfortunately, while this seems like your work is done, it’s not. Some people will still end up misusing your original work.

Your best course of action is to take the necessary steps to properly copyright and protect your content. It might seem time-consuming, but there’s nothing worse than finding your blog content (word for word), on another site.

Plus, copyrighting your website gives you a distinct advantage. With a copyright, you have tangible proof of ownership over your site’s content. This allows you to more easily enforce legal action if something does happen with your content.

Taking the proper copyright steps now will give you greater legal ground and an improved sense of protection against people who might scrape your site’s content and original images.


What Kind of Content Does a Copyright Protect?

Before you get too excited, know that you won’t be able to copyright every single aspect of your WordPress site. You can copyright any originally created content, including images that you’ve created yourself and any blogs you’ve written.

Unfortunately, this protection won’t extend to the way your site looks, and sometimes even your domain name (more on this below). This is simply due to the fact that, with the rise of the internet, most copyright law is pretty old. With technology moving as fast as it does, it’s hard for copyright laws to move fast enough to keep up and protect every aspect of your intellectual property.

Generally, the following elements of your WordPress site will be protected by copyright law:

  • Any original written content across your site
  • Any original code (that you have ownership too)
  • Photographs that you’ve taken yourself
  • Original artwork or images
  • Any embedded video content that you’ve created

Since you have a WordPress site there are other elements that fall into more of a grey area, like your themes and plugins, or any user-generated content like comments.

There is a possibility that your entire site could be copyrighted, but you’d have to be able to prove that every single aspect of your site is indeed original, from your codebase to your content and images to even the layout of your site.


How to Copyright Your WordPress Blog

As you’ll learn below there are multiple methods you can employ to copyright your WordPress blog, along with protecting your content to avoid any copyright infringment of your original work.

Each of the steps below will add further protection to your website. You don’t have to implement every single one of them, but most are pretty simple and will greatly improve your copyright protection. By following these suggestions, you’ll be able to learn how to copyright your blog and keep your content protected.


1. Add a Copyright Notice to Your Site

When you install a WordPress theme you’ll probably notice a copyright symbol at the bottom of your blog. Almost all themes are equipped with a copyright notice. For example, here’s the copyright on the bottom of the HostGator blog, which uses WordPress hosting:

wordpress copyright

You’ll be able to change this to the name of your own blog within the blog theme settings, or by adjusting the footer itself.

You can keep your copyright message simple. All you’ll really need is the copyright symbol, the date when your website was created or the current year, and your name or company name.

Changing your copyright notice should be your first line of defense.


2. Add a Terms of Use Page

Hopefully, adding the traditional copyright notice to your blog will be enough to ward off most people. But, if you want to take an extra step of protection and spell out the use and misuse of your content in greater detail, then creating and adding a Terms of Use page to your site is a great idea.

Even though these pages might seem technical in nature, there are a variety of tools that can help you generate these pages rather quickly.

For starters, you have online tools like Termsfeed and Formswift. With these you’ll enter some basic information and terms of service page will automatically be generated. Then, you just copy and paste this into a new page on your WordPress site called Terms of Service. Usually, you’ll want to place a link to this page in your footer, next to your copyright notice (just like we did at HostGator).

The other option is to use a WordPress plugin. One of the simplest is called Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. This plugin will autogenerate any necessary terms of service and privacy policy pages. You can then embed these pages into your site through the use of a shortcode. There’s also a premium version of this plugin which will offer you additional copyright protection, and things like maintaining GDPR compliance.


3. Register Your Copyright

You automatically have copyright protection for any content you create. But, if you want to bring legal action, then you’ll need to individually copyright each blog post.

To do this you’ll need to submit and file an application with the U.S. Copyright Office. You can submit your registration for multiple blog posts at once through the copyright office.

If you have a very active blog, then you’ll probably want to do this a couple times per year. It will cost money, but for blogs earning you money, the expense is minimal for the protection it affords.


4. Protect Your WordPress Site Content

One great way to protect your content is to make it impossible to actually copy it. You might have seen this before when you try to right click on a website and you’re unable to actually copy it. Typically, this is because they’re using a WordPress plugin that actually stops this action.

You have a few different ways to do this, which protect any visual content, along with any written content. If you’re using your own artwork or photography, then you’ll probably want to implement both.


Protecting Your Blog Images

If you’re uploading original images or artwork to the web, then it’s highly recommended to add a watermark. The most effective way to do this is to add it within your preferred image editing software.

There are plugins and online tools you can use, but usually, this will result in a less clean image. A small watermark can go a long way.

That way if anyone does try to steal your original images you’ll have the watermark to prove it. Plus, having watermarked photos and artwork makes it less likely for people to steal them in the first place.

The other thing you’ll want to protect against is called image hotlinking. This not only means that someone else is using your image, but they’re also using your server resources. When someone hotlines your image, they embed the image using a link to the original file (on your server), then when their page is loaded it uses your server resources to load the image.

To prevent image hotlinking you’ll want to use an additional plugin or tool. If you use a CDN like Cloudflare, then you can simply enable hotlinking protection. Otherwise, you can use a WordPress security plugin like All In One WP Security and Firewall, which has the ability to turn on hotlink protection.


Protecting Your Blog Content

Protecting your written content can be a little bit more difficult. If you’re concerned about privacy and the unauthorized use of your content, then you can always install a WordPress plugin that will prevent visitors from copy and pasting your site’s content.

The ability to highlight and right-click on any content will be completely blocked. This isn’t always the best course of action, as you might want to make it easy for readers to copy and share your content on social media. But, if it becomes a problem, then it’s a good option to have.

There are a few plugins you can use to accomplish this, but the most common are WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click and Prevent Content Theft. With either of these plugins, just activate,  install, and your content will be protected by copyright laws.


Protecting Against Scrapers

Scrapers are the bane of existence for a lot of website owners. You’ve worked hard to create a great piece of content, only to find your entire post copy and pasted to another website. Typically, these websites are based upon bots that scrape content from popular sites, hoping to piggyback on the success of this popular content.

This content is usually stolen from your RSS feed. One of the best ways to protect against this is to use the built-in feature of Yoast SEO. With this plugin, you’ll be able to add a phrase to your content that says something like, “This content originally appeared on [your blog name]”. This helps to prove your content ownership before you take any further action.

yoast seo rss settings for wordpress

5. Trademark the Name of Your Blog

If your blog continues to grow in popularity, then you might want to consider trademarking the name of your blog. A copyright will protect your the content on yoru blog, while a trademark will protect the name of your blog.

By creating a trademark for your blog name you’ll protect your name against anyone who decides to create a website with a similar name. However, it might be difficult for your blog name to be accepted if it’s already too similar to an existing name. This works best for large blogs that have been built under a unique name.

Still, it might be a course of action worth pursuing. If so, you can file an application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is a lengthy process, but one that might be worthwhile for large blogs.


6. Send a Simple Cease and Desist for Infringing Content

Maybe you’ve already found that some website is using your content or your original images without your permission. This tends to happen pretty frequently, whether it’s by accident or on purpose.

The first step you can take is sending a simple email, letting the site owner know about the use of your protected content, and how you’d like them to take it down. Usually, this simple nudge will be enough.

If you find that they don’t respond, or don’t take down the content, then you can take the next step of drafting a cease and desist letter for copyright infringment. You may hire a lawyer to draft up the document for you, or you can use a free online tool like Wonder.Legal or Rocket Lawyer to create a simple letter.

Just know that a letter coming from a lawyer will probably carry more weight than the one you’ve drafted up yourself.

If this doesn’t work, then you can always take an additional (more formal) step and utilize the DMCA, which we get into next.


7. Use the DMCA

Even though copyright laws haven’t been updated in a while to reflect current internet standards there is a new copyright law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Essentially, this gives you right to issue a takedown notice to any website that’s passing off your original content as their own.

The DMCA was introduced back in the early 1990’s. It has a lot of moving parts, but the takedown notice will probably be most useful to you.

Typically, you’ll end up using this to your advantage when a website scraper has scraped your content and posted it on their website, claiming it’s their own. You’ll find this all over the web.

When this occurs you might have difficulty finding out who actually owns the website. If you run into this issue, then you can use Whois Lookup, to find out who owns the site, or even where the website is hosted.

You can also reach out to the web host who is hosting the website and let them know about the issue. In most cases, the host will end up removing the infringing site, as they don’t want to be hosting stolen content. Finding out who the domain owner is and understanding how Whois works can be extremely helpful should you run into this situation.


Protect Your WordPress Blog with a Copyright

Hopefully, you have a better idea of what it takes to copyright your WordPress blog. If you’ve run into copyright issues in the past, or want to prevent future headaches, then implementing the above steps is worth the time.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.