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How to Change Your Copyright Year Once and For All

Every year, usually within the few few days of January, you’ll see a lot of posts for bloggers that advise you to update your site’s Copyright year.

Want to know how to change your copyright year once and fall all?

You can delete it.

It’s unnecessary.

You already have copyright over your works once you create it (technically, “once it is created and fixed in a tangible form that is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device”), and you don’t need to write copyright on it, known as displaying a notice of copyright, for you to have a copyright.

Worried about the term “fixed” because you update your posts? The ability to edit it isn’t what the law means by fixed, they’re referring to the fixed nature of a publication versus a performance. The difference between the script of a play and the actual live performance of that play.

If it’s unnecessary, why do people write it?

Sometimes a little reminder is a good thing. Maybe a thief will think twice!

A notice of copyright was once required, under the 1976 Copyright Act, but it was removed by we went to the Berne Convention, made effective March 1, 1989. Old habits die hard but putting up a notice can’t hurt you (and there’s a small benefit, which I explain next).

Besides being a gentle reminder, in the event you file and win a lawsuit, the defendant can’t try to mitigate statutory damages on the grounds that it was innocent infringement. (if you’re considering a copyright infringement lawsuit, this paper by Stefan Mentzer of White & Case explains it well)

If you ever want to file an infringement lawsuit, you need to register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office to create a public record of your copyright. It’s a prerequisite to a lawsuit.

How to change your copyright year once and for all

If you have decided to put up a notice, you need to make sure it has three things – the word Copyright (or © or “Copr.”), the year the work was first published, and the name of the copyright owner. You can put it anywhere, as long as it’s visible.

Here’s CNN’s notice and it hits all three requirements:

Now, back to the original point of this post, now that we’ve meandered this far, how do you change the year once and for all? Use a little PHP.

This tip will save you a few precious minutes each year for the rest of your life.

(you’re very welcome)

Go into your your blog’s theme where you have the notice. Instead of changing 2013 to 2014, put this instead:


That bit of code will print out the current year. As of this writing, it’ll print out 2014 in 2014. In 2015, it’ll print 2015. Ad nauseam. Well, until the computers take over and when that happens it won’t really matter.

Here’s what I use in my footer:

Copyright &copy; <?=date("Y")?>

Then I never need to change the date. (and yes, I know having Copyright and © is redundant but I like how it looks.)

Enjoy those new found minutes (next year)!

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In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog ( that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

4 responses to “How to Change Your Copyright Year Once and For All”

  1. Thanks for the tip Jim. Some themes, like Genesis, I believe do this for you automatically! Even more time saved 🙂

  2. I always have to chuckle a little when I start seeing all the messages to update at the end of the year. That said, very cool tip Jim. I’m thankful my theme does it for me, otherwise I’d likely break my site trying to do anything technical like this. 🙂

  3. That can really help me and save me some time. Thanks Jim. Great tip!

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