0

Almost every website has some variation of "Copyright © [year] [company]" at the bottom. Sometimes they also add "All rights reserved".

What exactly do those terms entail? My biggest concern is this: by writing that, is the company claiming to own everything on the website, even potentially copyrighted user-submitted material?

3

The notice has a lot to do with legacy requirements in the United States to claim the copyright to a work. Up until 1989, the copyright notice was required. Today, the statements are mainly maintained to protect against "innocent infringement" which might reduce what a content owner can get in court.

What exactly do those terms entail?

That the owner stated owns all rights and you may do nothing with the content.

My biggest concern is this: by writing that, is the company claiming to own everything on the website, even potentially copyrighted user-submitted material?

That's exactly what they are doing. Depending on the terms of the specific site, content contributors generally either assign copyright to the site owner or license the content in a way that allows the site owner to do exactly what they want with it.

Site creators with the smarts or money to do it right/get someone to do it right usually state something like:

Copyright [Site Owner] and contributors.

Other sites (like this one) state specifically what they hold the copyright to:

site design / logo © 2015 Stack Exchange Inc

THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. CONSULT AN ATTORNEY REGARDING YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.

  • Unless there are actual signed documents involved, the users are almost certainly not assigning copyright to the website. "A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner’s duly authorized agent." - 17 U.S. Code § 204(a). – D M May 5 at 23:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.