Legal Requirement for Website Footer
April 19, 2016 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Is there a legal (not seo- or usability-related) reason you have to have copyright or legal information in a site footer?

I work on a saas site for financial information for corporations, and we want to redesign a page to have only an infinite-scroll grid. One of the things I hate about infinite scroll is how it makes a footer inaccessible without scrolling through all the information. With half a million records, that's too many to scroll through. My management challenged me to find out whether there's a legal requirement to have any information in a footer. I assume not. I assume the copyright is established when we create the content, and any legal information can be centrally located in the site. And we don't care about SEO, this is enterprise software and isn't indexed. I intend to ask my legal department, but does anyone here know?
posted by Pacrand to Technology (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My understanding is that copyright is largely implicit (it 'subsists in qualifying works') for countries signed up to the Berne Convention, which is most of them.

I think the main purpose of an actual copyright message is as a visual reminder to the reader that the owners of the site own the content. And a lot of my old clients used to like it because they felt it 'looked professional'.

You can have 'infinite scroll' under a footer that stays put at the bottom of the window - that's an option that might let you have your cake and eat it.
posted by pipeski at 3:32 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Copyright lawyers generally want stuff down there because it can establish "notice", which can help if/when it comes time to try to sue an infringer for damages. Other types of lawyers may have other reasons why they recommend that their clients display legal information on every web page. This is part of why you have a legal department.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on Copyright Notice (at least as it applies to US law).

That being said, many companies with many legal boxes (I'm thinking Facebook and Pinterest off the top of my head) to check seem to have implemented infinite scroll without an annoying static footer that stays at the bottom of a window. So, I'm betting there's another way, which your legal department can help you find.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:38 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

This article matches what lawyers have told me in-person:

Basically, you should have it, you should do, e.g., 2008-2016 instead of just 2016 if you made the content in 2008, and you just need it once on the homepage, or about page, or notices page, or something like that.

Usually it's on every page of the footer because people think it's supposed to be there and every page shares the same footer.
posted by michaelh at 3:39 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

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