Why Your Website Needs a Copyright Policy


Copyright Policies contain terms iterating the procedure for which users of a website should follow in the event they need to report copyright infringement on that particular website.  These policies typically stem from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), which creates a Safe Harbor that limits a website owner’s liability for the upload of copyright infringing User Generated Content.  The DMCA only provides this Safe Harbor if the website owner designates a DMCA Agent and follows a specific protocol after receiving a DMCA Takedown Notice.

Regardless of whether a website has User Generated Content on it or not, there is the chance that copyright-infringing content could accidentally be incorporated onto your website by yourself and/or your web designer without your knowledge.  In that circumstance, copyright owners are still going to want a clear explanation of the process they should follow when submitting a takedown notice.   Instead of forcing users to fish around your website for contact information, it is best practice to create a Copyright Policy so that users can easily report infringement when it’s occurring.  Most of the time, copyright owners are satisfied with the removal of infringing works from a website, so articulating a clear Copyright Policy can expedite resolution and ultimately help reduce your chance of being sued.

If you are developing a website – or currently own and operate one – you should absolutely incorporate a Copyright Policy into your website agreements and legal policies. Many websites – such as Google and Twitter – create forms to complement their Copyright Policy that users can easily fill out to report infringement. Altogether, developing a Copyright Policy (and potentially a form to go along therewith) can spare you from headaches, embarrassment, and liability in the future.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Enrico Schaefer, who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing Business, IP, and Technology Law litigation attorney.