Copyright Laws for Websites

IP lawyer Geraldina Mattsson has started off her new career with ACID Accredited Law Firm DMH Stallard’s legal team, with a useful set of guidelines about setting up a webpage to sell and market your products regarding intellectual property rights. It is almost standard practice these days for businesses of any size to have websites to advertise and sell their products and services. Although the web’s popularity grew exponentially in the mid-90s, its policing remains largely uncontrolled. It is therefore important for owners of intellectual property rights to be aware of the ease of intellectual property infringement in cyberspace and of committing infringement against other rights-holders, whether innocently or intentionally. This applies to businesses that commission webpage specialists to construct a website as well as those that prefer building their own. Either way, it is important to consider the following issues before your webpage goes live:-

Ensure that you warn others of your ownership in the intellectual property rights in the webpage content by displaying a copyright notice either at the bottom of your webpage or which can be retrieved by clicking on a link on your page.

If you are displaying any goods that have the benefit of registered trade mark or registered design protection, be sure to use the relevant symbols to warn others that your goods are protected by intellectual property rights. ACID members, of course, can use the powerful ACID logo together with an IP statement, “All intellectual property rights in our designs and products and in the images, text and design of this website are and will remain the property of (insert your name), Any infringement of these rights will be taken seriously”.(see,;; as examples).

Include a set of conditions of use and/or service which sets out clearly the issues of intellectual property ownership, responsibilities and liabilities required of the end-user and/or how you may wish to use any intellectual property created by the end-user, if applicable. You should also specify that the end-user is only granted a limited licence to access and use your website without conferring any rights to modify or download any content without express consent from you.

Beware of taking material protected by copyright from other web pages such as texts, photos, specialised fonts or typographical arrangements and using such material on your webpage without prior permission from the rights-owner. As is widely known, it is easy to right-click on your mouse to copy material from another page; but according to IT specialists, there is technology available that can enable copyright owners to identify the source carrying out the infringing act, making it easier and quicker for copyright owners to catch infringers. In turn, you may wish to invest in the same technology to deter potential infringers and include a notice to that effect on your webpage. If you do, a pop-up message may appear after an end-user has right-clicked on copy-protected material to warn the end-user against copying the content without permission. Alternatively, this technology may be covert where the end-user is not forewarned about the potential liability in copying the protected content, but will be directly issued with a cease and desist letter containing a demand for compensation. Businesses must decide which of these methods is of more value to them.

If you wish to place links to interesting or relevant articles illustrations or photos on your webpage, you must ensure that permission from the copyright owner is obtained first.
It is essential that you register your domain name; this is the address of your webpage. A domain name is an extremely important marketing tool as it identifies your business. You should choose a domain name that best suits your business and should ensure that your domain name registrar (should you decide to use one) conducts the requisite checks to ascertain that the name selected has not previously been registered or may be a trade mark of another company.

You should also choose your domain name registrar carefully. Nominet, the internet registry for .uk domain names, provides some general advice on its webpage on how to choose a registrar. To apply for .eu domain names, you should consult the webpage of the European Registry of Internet Domain Names (EURid), at

Implementing the above points will provide you with some basic defences against infringers and rights-holders. Owners of intellectual property rights will need to balance vigilance in protecting their intellectual property rights with cautiousness against inadvertently infringing the rights of other rights-holders. Don’t forget the ACID legal hotline number is 0845 230 5742 and this is available for initial free advice on contentious and non-contentious matters.