Hi I am a software engineering student, say I code a random personal program and upload it as a website. And I make the code closed-source. What IPs/trademarks/copyrights do I automatically have? I see a lot of personal websites, they just put a "Copyright © 2015-2022" at the bottom, does that do anything? What if someone takes my website, copies everything, and uploads it to their website? Obviously that'll never happen since I don't make anything noteworthy, but what can I do in that case?

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Your code, and the display it produces, is automatically protected by copyright the moment it is "fixed in a tangible form", which includes saving it in a computer file. In the US, a copyright notice has been optional since the effective date of the 1976 Copyright act, and in most other countries even longer. This is mandated by the Berne Copyright convention, and almost every country follows Berne, either directly or via the WTO's TRIPS Agreement.

If an original work was posted to a web site, and then copied and re-posted without permission, the owner could send a takedown notice to the site where it is unlawfully posted, or that site's host. Or the author could sue for copyright infringement, and possibly collect money damages or get a court order forbidding further use of the content, or both. To sue in the US, the owner must first register the work with the copyright office, which requires payment of a fee.


Unless you sell your program, or offer it for sale or rent, or sell or offer for sale something connected with it, such as a service, there will be no trademark.

A trademark is a word, phrase, image, or design that identifies a particular product or service in the commercial marketplace. It serves to distinguish the trademarked product or service from other possibly similar things offered by other sellers. Product names, business names, slogans, logos, distinctive packaging, or design can all serve as trademarks.

Once a person or business has acquired a valid trademark, others cannot, lawfully, use that mark or a closely similar one in ways that might confuse potential customers or members of the public about which goods come from which source, without permission. One also cannot lawfully use someone else's mark or a confusingly similar mark to suggest endorsement, approval, sponsorship or affiliation, unless one has permission from the trademark owner. To do either of these is to commit trademark infringement.

If a trademark is infringed the owner may sue and possibly collect money damages, or get a court order against further infringement, or both.

In some countries, only registered trademarks are protected against infringement. In others, such as the US, a degree of protection can be achieved just by using a mark "in trade", that is, commercially.

Valid copyrights are valid all over the world, automatically. Trademarks, however, must be protected country-by-country: what is protected in one country may well not be in another. Trademark registration is generally separate for each separate country where the trademark is used.

Unlike copyrights or patents, trademarks do not automatically expire after a fixed period. But if an owner stops using a trademark "in trade" it may be canceled for lack of use in a relatively short period, as short as 5 years in some countries.

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