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PSA: It’s That Time to Update the Copyright Year on Your Site

Every year about this time I see articles going around reminding people how to update the copyright on their websites. Usually somewhere in the footer. You know, a line like:

© Copyright 2007-2019 CSS-Tricks

I am very absolutely not a lawyer, but this is how I understand it:

  • You don't actually need that if your goal is copyrighting blog posts. Blog posts are copyrighted (in the United States) the second you publish them, with or without a copyright notice. You just can't sue anybody over infringement unless you register the copyright.
  • People say it may "defer" infringements (but I don't buy it).
  • People say it may win you greater settlements should you sue and win (but I wouldn't even know where to begin fact-checking that).

Personally, I usually don't bother with it, but don't take that as legal advice. I feel like it's usually included for a bit of swagger like, "lookie how long we've been around." In that same tune, if you're doing it, it makes a lot of sense to keep it up to date because having the incorrect or an outdated date definitely makes your site look stale.

So, sure, rock your <?php echo date("Y"); ?> or whatever you need to do to keep it up to date. Just be careful: I just saw a site going around that recommended an inline JavaScript document.write() technique. That's probably not the worst thing in the world since it's just injecting a string, but it's usually something to avoid for various reasons, and I'd way rather see you do it server-side or pre-rendered.