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Cover image for 🛑OCD ALERT🛑: GET YOUR COPYRIGHT YEAR IN ORDER

🛑OCD ALERT🛑: GET YOUR COPYRIGHT YEAR IN ORDER

Issam Mani
Frontend developer with a web-* obsession. I also like to read about history.
・4 min read

When I visit a website the first thing I check is the copyright year in the footer. You might be surprised how many websites out there don't update the year, which might suggest that even when they did some time in the past it was done manually.

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Seeing a footer with an outdated year just tells me that the website is not properly looked after, which in a way as a business can degrade the value of your product.
As a web developer, I can't help myself but think that the person who made the website didn't care enough to add a one liner that auto generates the current year.

I even wrote a crawler to find such websites and boy there some big names in the mix. So without further ado I present to you :
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"HONEY I F***** UP THE COPYRIGHT YEAR" TOP 10 2021 Edition: [Better name needed, let's make this an annual event 😝]

  1. Apple Music Alt Text
  2. Outlook
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  3. Deutsche Bahn (German railways)
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  4. Deutsche Post (German Postal Service)
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    This one was a real mess. I found pages with 2017, 2019, 2020.
    Another link
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  5. Some other apple subdomains (This isn't too bad, I mean some pages are archaic)
    Apple podcast lisiting page
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    Apple app listing page
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  6. Vimeo help center
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  7. Ironically an article on sonet.digital titled "The Importance of Updating Your Copyright Dates" which in turn has an outdated copyright year.
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  8. Github Status
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  9. Stitcher
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  10. Atlassian investors
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If you would like to test this for yourself grab a copy of the crawler and crawl away (If that's even a word).

Now I am by no means a lawyer or a trusted source on legal matters, but from what I understand and what other "by every means" more qualified people stated on the web is that it is not necessary to update the year from a legal standpoint.

Here is what a nolo had to say about this:

... The copyright notice must also state the year the work was published. It has yet to be decided exactly when a website is "published" for copyright purposes, since many websites are updated daily. You should assume that any website that can be accessed has been "published" as soon as it launches, and include a copyright notice on it to reflect the original date.

But it also states that after substantial changes to your website the copyright year should reflect the year of publication of those changes:

However, if an update contains a substantial amount of new material, it is considered to be a separate work of authorship in its own right. The notice for such a derivative work should contain the date the new work was published.

How you quantify "substantial changes" remains a mystery, though. Some other sources claim that having the original publication date might deter infringement of your website content.

Now here is my counterargument: Big companies whose products can be only described as living creatures, don't follow such conventions. Facebook, for instance, who btw. has a massive legal team and literally billions at stake has the following copyright text(as of the time of writing) :

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Conclusion

This blogpost might feel like a rant (which it definitely is !), but really people this problem could be solved by a one liner in almost all languages ! On a final note: GET YOUR COPYRIGHT YEARS IN ORDER !

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If you enjoyed reading this like, share and/or leave a comment. Feedback is always welcome !

Live long and prosper 🖖

Discussion (7)

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hbgl profile image
hbgl

Or just remove the copyright notice as it serves no purpose.

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issammani profile image
Issam Mani Author

That's a fair point. Websites that have a need for legal notices have seperate pages specifically for that. So in a way having the copyright notice on each page is kind of redundant. But again it has become one of those things ( guilty of it myself )  that people  just  do for the sake of conformity.

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hbgl profile image
hbgl • Edited

I meant that you do not need to have a copyright notice at all because it is not required by law. To the extend that it is there to inform people about the copyright status of the site, it is completely useless. Most sites just put © $LauchYear - $CurrentYear in the footer. How are you supposed to know which year applies to which content?
Look at this page right here. It has a copyright notice claiming that the DEV Community has a copyright on the site. But that is not true because 95% the content is generated by the users.
I think its real purpose is to signal legitimacy, professionalism, and being part of the cargo-cult.

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alexparra profile image
Alex Parra

new Date().getFullYear()

Sleep tight. ;)

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ironmancool001 profile image
Debaditya Malakar

I just tell javascript to automate the task if I need to add copyright

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nmampersand profile image
Nicole & (she/her)

...nervously goes to check own portfolio site...

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issammani profile image
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