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Does copyright by some domain name mean anything?

     
2:49 am on Oct 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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On a lot of websites, it says copyright by that domain name on the bottom. Many site generating software packages will put that on the bottom automatically. In many cases that domain name isn't a legal name. It's not the name of a real person or a corporation or a registered DBA. Does it mean anything? Does having that domain name registered by someone mean anything legally if it's used in the copyright notice?
3:00 am on Oct 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well, if the site is copied by a really, really stupid scraper--a group that is much larger than we like to think--I guess it would help point a finger, much like "canonical" links pointing to the real sitename.

Heh.
5:42 am on Oct 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As lucy24 said, it's a record. The content has been documented to exist somewhere at a certain time. If contested, it would be one piece of evidence to that fact.

Different countries have different laws and this can be a complicated topic.

Heh
6:30 am on Oct 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Copyright is pretty simple. Domains are also simple. Both can be attributed to an individual or an entity (eg. business/organization) as the copyright holder, so yes, domains are important in that regard.
4:37 pm on Oct 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What I wondered, though--and this is probably OP's actual question--is whether copyright notices are a case of Less Is More.* Does attributing copyright to an entity that is not legally able to own a copyright give the copyright notice less weight than if it had simply said Copyright + Year, without naming a copyright holder?


* If you're selling a used car and say “runs good”, that’s just puffery and means nothing. But if you cut back to the single word “runs”, it becomes a statement of fact. Hence, less is more.
5:51 pm on Oct 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Exactly the point I was trying to make Lucy24. Does attributing a copyright to a non-legal entity mean anything? It's like saying that a non-legal entity owns a house. Both are property. The house case doesn't exist. You can't have a house owned by the house.

It's more than about copyright. Many websites have disclaimers of liability. For a user forum, websites often state that user comments are their own and thus the website has no responsiblity. For a review site, this review is an opinion so there is no liability if it's wrong. Does a disclaimer by a non-legal entity mean anything? It's a disclaimer by nobody. Same with TOS. Can you break terms of service with no one?
6:47 pm on Oct 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well if that is the actual concern, I can comment on the steps I took about 20 years ago.

My Company name is a registered trademark of the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, United States Department of Commerce. It is also the domain name.

The registration process took nearly a year and approx $300 (plus another $100 for amendments.) It also needs to be updated every several years with additional fees. At the end of the process I hired 2 Copyright & Trademark attorneys who specialize in Internet Law to examine everything to make sure it was properly done and that it achieved what I had intended.

IMO the registration has paid for itself several times, including getting Facebook to remove pages that were unauthorized to use my mark, e.g. my Company name. The registration is also a significant player in quickly getting other Social Media "official" or "authorized" account status.

I registered it as my mark. However, this is not why I registered my mark. Using a domain in your Copyright notice is already standard practice. If you are the person that has registered the domain, then the domain name *does* represent you. Even better is to use your Company name in the Copyright notice, or like me, to have both the same.

I also have an information page linked from the Copyright notice at the bottom of all pages, that explicitly outlines the terms of Copyright & Trademark.

Note: this is just my experience. If it is helpful, great. However, I am not an attorney and Webmaster World is not a substitute for an attorney. We can't and don't give legal advice.

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3:26 pm on Oct 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Does having that domain name registered by someone mean anything legally if it's used in the copyright notice?

Under the Berne Convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation.

Most countries (176 including USA) are parties to the convention. A small handful are not.

While the USA once had a legal requirement for copyright notices, this has not been the case since March 1989.

So a notice that says (for example) "© Webmaster World 1996-2018 all rights reserved" is not strictly necessary.

The copyright already exists without the notice.

It belongs to whoever created the work, or whoever they assigned the rights to.

In USA the work can be registered and deposited with the Copyright Office for enhanced protection.

Your specific question is addressed by that department:

2205.2(D) Variants, Abbreviations, Alternative Designations, or Pseudonyms for the Copyright Owner

A notice may contain an abbreviation by which the copyright owner can be recognized or a generally known alternative designation... A generally known alternative designation for the copyright owner’s full name may contain part of that name, the copyright owner’s well-known initials, or a completely different name.

Source: [copyright.gov...]

...
7:15 am on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As noted above, a copyright notice is not generally required, but I use one that simply says

Copyright © 2018

Which falls into the "less is more" also noted above, though I have a belt and suspenders in having the word "Copyright" and the symbol "©", either of which is sufficient.
6:08 pm on Oct 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you all especially Samizdata for the quotes from the law. Particularly the section about pseudonyms which by definition is not a legal name.
 

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