I've noticed that many websites will use a bit of JavaScript to keep the declared copyright year at the bottom of the page up to date. For example: new Date().getFullYear() (which simply reports the current year, no matter when the content was actually last updated). Does this practice actually accomplish anything other than make the site appear to be more recently/frequently updated?

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    The question could even be broader: Even if the date specified was the last update date, what significance does it have? The copyright doesn't expire when the content reaches a certain age, but when the creators have passed more than (for most countries) 70 years ago. As of now, there's no website whose creator died more than 70 years ago.
    – PMF
    Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 18:01
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    It's 70 years after publication if the other isn't known. In the UK, it's 70 years after the death of the author if the author is known. In other countries expect the rules to be slightly different. I expect that at some point in the future invalid copyright claims would be possible, but unlikely to happen. Apple is unlikely to sue you in 2092 about copying iOS 15. If they do, you'd ask for a list of authors and their death dates.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 18:15
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    @gnasher729 Only if the author isn't known to anybody (or is a corporate author or the work is a work for hire). On the other hand, if the author isn't known to anybody, then practically speaking nobody has standing to file suit. Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


Almost none. It is a legacy of the era when copyright protection was a function of year of publication. Including it is appropriate, however, to meet the formal requirements for a legal notice of claim of copyright which has some procedural implications if it is omitted.

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    In the legacy era it was important to not update the date unless the content was changed. Since copyright expiration depended on the age of the document updating the date with no change to the content could be seen as trying to cheat and make the content look younger than it was. Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 19:04
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    As far as I understand, copyright still depends on the year of publication if it is published by a corporation, or if it's a publication of an anonymous work, and probably lots of published works on the Internet today and in the past (e.g. in the Internet Archive) would qualify.
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 6:55
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    In the Uk it would be important if the author is not known. It’s quite possible that in 70 years any knowledge who wrote what would be lost.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 7:51
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    Since works published prior to 1978 in the US were and are under publication + time copyright durations in the US, a copyright date that was too new lost copyright protection, whereas a copyright date that was too old effectively started copyright at that date.
    – prosfilaes
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 14:49

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