© Basics: Copyright is Automatic

It is not uncommon for me to hear bloggers wonder aloud about whether they should “copyright” their work. Maybe you’ve had this question yourself. How does a blogger go about copyrighting their work?

Well I’ve got good news for you: you don’t have to do a thing!

Copyright protection arises automatically upon creation of a work. Or more specifically, copyright is automatic where a work:

  • Is original;
  • Is substantial enough; and
  • Is in a material form.

Let’s break it down.

I’m going to address originality in a separate post, because it’s so interesting.

Substantial enough: There must be enough content for copyright protection to attach. This is a pretty simple requirement to satisfy – pictures, blog posts (or any slabs of text), podcasts and vlogs (video logs) are all substantial enough to be protected. Names and titles are generally not substantial enough to have copyright protection. That’s why it’s possible to have several books, movies (or blogs!) with the same name. Legal protection of names generally falls under the domain of trademark law or business names registration. Again, that is a post for another day.


Material form: This basically means that your content must be set down somewhere relatively permanent – written down, typed out, drawn, painted, recorded. It cannot exist only in your head and it cannot exist only in a transient form (like streaming an online discussion without also saving that stream somewhere).

copyright-www.lucentimagery.com-3Material form. Photo by Lucent Imagery, used with permission.

Pretty straightforward, right? Almost all of the content you produce for your blog will attract copyright protection automatically (yay!)

But I thought you needed to include that little © symbol to have copyright protection?

Nope. But it’s good practice to include that symbol, your name and the year the work was created (e.g. © Kylie Pappalardo 2014) to provide people with the information they need to figure out whom to ask permission from if they’d like to use your work.