Registering website content

Fact sheet P-23

Issued: 30th January 2009
Last amended: 4th August 2021
Fact sheet P-23: Registering websites

Web designWebsite content is frighteningly easy to copy and we get more reports about copyright infringement of website content than any other material. Registering the copyright content of your website is a proven way to secure evidence and help protect your work, but a large proportion of the enquiries we receive are from people who are unclear how to register their site.

This fact sheet explains how best to register your website.

  1. When to register

    Due to the dynamic nature of websites deciding when to register may be unclear.

    As a basic rule, the website should be as complete as possible, but should ideally be registered before the site is published online, or is seen by untrusted parties, to ensure that proof of content is available as early as possible.

  2. What to register

    A registration is evidence of the content that you submit to us, so it is important to ensure that the full copy of the website content you want to protect is included when you make your copyright registration. The way to approach this will depend on the type of site you have. Broadly speaking websites normally fall into one of four categories:

    1. Planned / proposed sites

      With a site that is at the planning stage, you may have written content for the site, perhaps some artwork and design ideas, but little (if any) code. This preliminary work can be registered; in fact it is common to do so, and even recommended before you approach third parties to develop your ideas.

      If this is the case, you simply need to get together all the content, images, etc. into a folder on your computer and proceed to ‘How to register’ below.

    2. Built online

      Sites that are created online using a website builder service or content management system.

      • With back up

        If the facility you use provides the ability to back up your content, or you have access to and are able to back up your content, then submitting a backup is normally the best option when registering.

        For sites built withing a content management systems (Wordpress, Concrete 5, ModX etc.) , you should submit:
        1. A back up of the site; i.e. the same as you would use if migrating to a new hosting provider. That should contain all the content.
        2. Screenshots of key pages (to show the overall 'look and feel' without the need to restore a backup).
        3. Any specific images, files, etc. that users can view/download (artwork, PDF files, etc.) if they are not included in (or not directly readable from) the back up.

        Alternatively you could use a tool like GNU Wget to download the site contents into a 'standalone' version of the site (sometimes this does not do a complete job - so you should check all the files are there)

      • Without backup
        If you are not able to make a back up, then you will need to manually assemble the content for registration. The best way to do this is to create a folder on your computer and save to that folder all the content that you wish to submit. There are many ways to do this, including:
        1. Using a tool like GNU Wget to download the site contents.
        2. From your web browser save each page to your computer (in most browsers there is an option ’Save page as‘ or similar under the file menu).
        3. Microsoft Word / Open Office document(s) (or similar) containing all the written content you have added to the site (either copied directly from the web page, or your own originals if you have these).

        Remember to also include any image files that you have created that are used on the site, as well as any other supporting materials or files that you have created that are available on your website.

        Once you have all this data together in a folder you can either burn it to CD/DVD (etc.) or zip it ready form uploading (see ’How to register‘ section below).

    3. Traditional sites

      Sites that are based on non-compiled resources that are hosted on a web server.

      Such sites will consist of some or all of the following elements:

      When registering this type of site, you should submit a copy of the same files that you would upload to your web server.

      If you are using editing software to publish your site, it is advisable to publish the website to a local folder on your system (this will normally ensure that all files are included with the registration), then proceed to ‘How to register’ below

      1. HTML/XHTML pages
      2. CSS stylesheets
      3. JavaScript files
      4. Images
      5. PHP, PERL, (or other interpreted language) scripts and files
      6. Downloadable/viewable files (PDF, text files, Microsoft Word or Open Office documents, etc.)
    4. Sites with compiled resources

      Sites that use compiled resources such as Java, .NET, etc.

      With this type of site, the main issue is the source code - Under copyright law, computer programs are principally classified as literary work – that is to say it is principally in the actual written code (i.e. the source code) where copyright exists. So in most circumstance, you will want to include a copy of the source code in your registration deposit.

      If you are registering online, then you should create a zip archive containing all your source code (plus any non-compiled resources - static pages, scripts, images and other files) and upload this when you register. You can also include a copy of the compiled (working) site to fully illustrate the end result.

  3. How to register
    • Registering Online

      During online registration you will be asked to upload the files that make up your work.

      Websites typically have a lot of files across a multilayered directory structure so special care must be taken to ensure that the structure of your site is preserved during upload.

      You should take the following steps:

      • You should have a directory on your computer containing the full content of your site.
      • Use an application such as WinZipWinRar/Rar7-ZipStuffIt, or Tar to create a single archive file (i.e. a ‘.zip’ or ‘.tar.gz’ file) from the directory (so you now have a single file containing all the content).
      • Upload this archive file when you register online.

      Following this procedure will ensure that the directory structure of the site is preserved.
      For more details, please see our instructions on how to create zip archive files.

      We will accept any type of compressed archive files, although we recommend that a non-proprietary format (i.e. .zip, .tar.gz) is used. As with all electronic files you should choose common formats to ensure that software to read the files will be available in the future.

    • Registering by post

      For postal registrations you simply need to send the copy of the entire site on CD, DVD, BD disc or USB drive with your completed registration form.

  4. Common questions
    • What happens if my site changes after registration?

      The fact that your work may change and evolve after the registration should not be a concern as we provide a facility to register updates to your work.

      The registration update facility enables you add new versions of your work to the registration, so that the new content is covered. The original registration date and content is retained and each update is stored as a separate item of evidence, effectively building up a record of the evolution of your work over time, (this is very powerful evidence to have in an infringement case).

      You are free to choose how often you update a registration - it not necessary to do so every time the site changes. Generally, registration updates are recommended if there is new content you specifically want to protect. Most website owners/designers will only submit an update when there has been a major change, or something of particular value that they wish to include in the registration. (In most cases, many months will pass between registration updates).

      Updates are charged at a reduced rate (£21.25 per work for updates submitted online or £29.00 per work for postal updates) for full details please see our fact sheet P-17 Updating Copyright Registrations

    • Can I be sure that my work is safe?

      Yes. All work we receive and data we store is covered by strict confidentiality and security policies. All staff with access to registered materials have signed confidentiality agreements. Additionally, if you register online, the upload of your work happens oven an encrypted (HTTPS) connection.

      For further details please see our security/privacy documentation.

      If you are still concerned, you may encrypt the files before you submit them for registration, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the means to decrypt the files for the lifetime of the registration.

    • Can I include other people’s work in my website when I register?

      Provided you have permission from the work owner or the work has a licence that allows you to use it as you intend, and it is clear which parts are not your own (i.e. the work should be attributed to the relevant owner). These conditions would apply before you publish on the Internet in any case so should already be complied with.

      If you do not have permission for any parts (perhaps the site is a proposal stage), then the best option is to remove affected parts from the content you submit for registration.