Including Year in Copyright


Today’s Question: Is there a reason why your copyright does not include the year? I have been changing this import preset to change it every year.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I exclude the year from the copyright information I add to metadata simply for expediency. This way I can use the same metadata preset without needing to update each year.

More Detail: Traditionally a copyright notice includes the year of first publication. However, including that information is not necessary. In fact, it is not required to include a copyright notice in metadata, nor to actually file your images for copyright protection with the US Copyright Office.

Ultimately, the point of copyright protection is to be able to assert a claim against someone who infringes on your copyright. It can certainly be helpful to file your images with the US Copyright Office, so your claim is officially documented. And anything you can do to help document the date of first publication can also be helpful. In other words, if you need to file an infringement claim, you’ll want to be able to document that the photo in question is yours, and was captured before the infringer published the image that violates your copyright.

So, it can certainly be a good idea to include the year in the copyright notice for your photos. But that is only a metadata value, and doesn’t necessarily relate to the actual date of first publication, and doesn’t actually represent the first publication. I don’t spend much time worrying about copyright infringement, but I’m also confident that if there was infringement I would be able to document the capture date, publication date, and other details of my photos.