Website Development 3 tips to protect a website from copyright infringement

Website Development lawyers

Website development lawyers provide 3 tips to protect a website from copyright infringement in this article.


If you are an online business your website and content are your business and livelihood. Here are some tips from website copyright protection lawyers on how to protect your website from copy cats.

(1) Register your website – It is good practice to register your website with an official copyright authority in a competent jurisdiction. There isn’t an official copyright authority in the UK but there are organisations that provide a copyright service like UK Copyright Services UK©CS. Registration can be made online: £39.00 for 5 years or £64.00 for 10 years. Registration in the US is far more complex and you should consult a specialist before attempting this.

(2) Works – Note that you can only claim copyright of works in the website not the website itself. The following are kinds of copyright works may subsist in all websites irrespective of the industry.

–  Artistic Works being any graphics and/or frames generated and displayed to the user.

– Literary Works being any design notes or programs such as plug-ins or widgets.
Section 3(1) of the 1988 Act (as amended by the Copyright (Computer Programs) Regulations (1992) ) (Defines “Literary works”).

– Database Rights being copyright to a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a schematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means (Database). Must be an original database.

C.f. Database Directive 1996 (for British implementation see CDPA s.144A).

 Entertainment Websites in particular might include the following types of copyright works in addition to the types of copyright works listed above:

– Music Works – MP3 or WMA files embodied in the website are protected as long as you own the song copyrights or the master rights. The music is exclusive of any words or action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music. You must own at least one or all of these elements to have protection. Your work may be classified as a sound recording or a performance rights depending on which element of the music you own.

-Dramatic Works – FLV and other audio/visual files embodied in the website are protected as dramatic works. Again you must own the rights to one or all the elements of the dramatic works such as dancing, acting, choreography or the cinematography.

C.f. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (Defines “Artistic, Musical, Dramatic and Literal works”).

(3) Do you have a case for copyright infringement? – You need to consider the following questions:

Is the copying of your website substantial?

Is the owner of the website you allege has copied your website a former employee or have they worked on your website in the past? Is there any way that they could have access to the site plan or design notes for your website? You should note that most, if not all, browsers have a function that allows users to view the source code of the web page. Proving accessibility to your work is not difficult, but if the alleged infringer is a former colleague or employee then it is even better for your case.

Is your website unique in some way? Although this is not necessary for copyright to subsist it does help in proving “originality”.


If the answers to the questions in paragraph (3) above are yes, then you may be able to bring an action for copyright infringement of your website.


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PAIL Solicitors is a UK based law firm with expertise in New Media (Websites), Media and Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law. More About Us

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