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January 03, 2007
New Year, New Copyright Date?
Is it 2007 already? With 2006 firmly engrained in muscle memory, this is the time of year when we need to remind ourselves to write or type 2007—rather than 2006—into our memos, checks (if you still use them) and other bits of prose or correspondence that don't automatically fill in the date for us.
This is also the time of year when people ask me if they should now change the copyright date on the bottom of their Web sites. The short answer is no; don't change the copyright date unless you've made other changes to the site and are using a multi-year format such as © 2004-2006.
I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on television. The following should not be construed as legal advice.
The copyright date should reflect the date upon which the material was created
While it is instinctive to use a current date to show that a Web site is up-to-date, the point of a copyright date is to protect your ownership of the content by demonstrating when the content was first created. Thus you will use the earliest date in which you created material for the site. If you built the site in 2004, you would probably use © 2004. If you had written copy or taken pictures for the site in 2003, you would want to reflect that as well by using a range such as © 2003-2004.
While print publications will use either a single year or a series of years (for multiple editions), Web sites that evolve over time often use a range of dates to cover the original and current material. Thus this blog, originally created in 2004 but including entries made this month, uses © 2004-2007.
As of today, this blog is one of only 3 sites I have updated to include the 2007 date. I will modify my other sites throughout the year as I add new content to them. Until I add new material they will retain 2006.
Visit the United States Copyright Office to learn more.
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