Most of the sites on Internet have copyright like:

site design / logo © 2012 stack exchange inc; user contributions licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required

I myself have not noticed it in ux.stackexchange.com until now that I needed it for my question. I don't think most of people see this part, so what is the purpose of it when most of us don't see that part.
We don't have copyright issues in our country, but again most of people in our country even do this? I think they just mimic these parts just to say their site is like a real site ;). Do I have to use copyright on the footer? Why?

P.S. my site is usable by all the people all around the world some with copyright laws some without it.

  • 1
    Copyright might be part and play well with the 'legal stuff' which is even required if you run your business in a certain country. That's why you'll find an 'Imprint' on most German sites. There's also a good question on usable Terms & Conditions: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/19864/… Jun 30, 2012 at 7:57

4 Answers 4


According to Wikipedia copyright is:

Generally, it is "the right to copy", but also gives the copyright holder the right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the work to other forms, who may perform the work, who may financially benefit from it, and other related rights. It is an intellectual property form (like the patent, the trademark, and the trade secret) applicable to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete.

Therefore, if you think your work needs to be credited for, you can put the copyright symbol. If you have patent and you have published it in your site, then you need to apply copyright; to show the readers that you are responsible for the whole work. otherwise, if you think it is free to be adopted , changed without your permission, it need not be copyrighted! instead it can be Copyleft which fits your use case!

  • let me give an example, When G+ created Photo Gallery then Facebook somehow copied it in his site and now using it. No copyright here? We saw these thing in articles and there was no complaint from Google. So what is this copyright for?
    – Alireza
    Jun 30, 2012 at 8:37
  • It legally gives you authority to complain and take action againt it. if google dint do it, its adifferent issue :)
    – sree
    Jun 30, 2012 at 9:07
  • I agree: nowadays the copyright notice on websites generally is added for the sake of attribution/ownership more than any stating of real IP protection.
    – Kit Grose
    Jun 30, 2012 at 13:05
  • In the US, there's absolutely no need to put the copyright notice on anything. Copyright is granted at time of creation. So, at least in the US, a copyright notice doesn't give you any more or any less 'authority to complain'
    – DA01
    Jul 5, 2012 at 15:10
  • "When G+ created Photo Gallery then Facebook somehow copied it in his site and now using it. No copyright here?" That's a bit of a fuzzier concept than just copyright. That could be a trade dress issue, that could be a patent issue. IP law is very much a gray area.
    – DA01
    Jul 5, 2012 at 15:12

The usability of the copyright can be co-related to the fact that it sends a sense of authenticity to the users. If we don't see any such message, we tend to be suspicious. So, I can say over a time, our mental model has become like that and trust the site (one of the factors of many) when see copyright stuff


Placing the copyright notice in the footer:

  • meets the legal need to have a copyright notice
  • meets the users expectations about where a copyright notice is normally located
  • keeps it away from the normal area of user interest (typically users scan in an 'F' shape)
  • 4
    Placing a copyright notice in the footer does not meet any legal requirement according to the Berne Copyright Convention. "Copyright under the Berne Convention must be automatic; it is prohibited to require formal registration."
    – JoJo
    Jun 30, 2012 at 7:47
  • I suspect different rules apply, at least in the UK where all corporate sites that I am aware of have a copyright statement.
    – Peter
    Jun 30, 2012 at 7:53
  • Question is not about where to place it, the question is about why at all we use it?
    – Alireza
    Jun 30, 2012 at 8:38
  • 1
    The question title was "Is copyright in the site's footer usable at all?" which is the question I've answered. The detail of the question includes "Do I have to use copyright on the footer?" (which is what you mention) which is a legal, not a UX question.
    – Peter
    Jun 30, 2012 at 9:49
  • This varies from nation to nation, the legal need that is... Jul 5, 2012 at 14:13

Copyright notices in the site footer allow sites to clarify what sorts of rights management the owner is using. It is common on the internet for sites to use copyleft, creative commons, or other variant assertions of rights over content.

According to the Berne Convention and the various legal systems that adhere to it, it is not necessary to assert copyright to automatically be assigned it. This means it is reasonable to assume that the most restrictive version of copyright law applies where notice is not given. A copyright notice allows authors to assert different rights to the content that may be less restrictive.

As others have mentioned there are additional side cases - some users believe (usually incorrectly) that websites without a copyright notice are not protected. A copyright notice here allows sites to signal to these users that it is. In addition, copyright notices can add a positive trust effect, as they are usually symptomatic of larger organisations that care about content rights and users associate the notice with the sort of legalese that these organisations employ.

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