It’s Not Hard to Get Your Copyright Notice Right

Copyright NoticeI’ve become something of an addict of Current Affairs. It’s not that I agree with it all the time. But I like the style. I am clearly a member of its demographic. It’s for educated people with a focus on politics. But it is also a magazine of culture. And the two things mix. When they write about culture, they bring in politics; and their political writing always touches on culture. They do a great job. What they can’t seem to do is put a proper copyright notice on the bottom of their pages.

This bugs me. They are smart people. Their website is written with the Bootstrap framework, so they aren’t total neophytes. If you are going to hand-code a site, it’s a good way to go. I’m a big believer in WordPress, but that’s more an indication of my age. I’m just not interested in the technical side of things anymore. (Yes, I know: it’s what I do for a living; but I get paid for caring about it then.) So it makes no sense that at the bottom of every page, we get this:

Current Affairs - 2015 Copyright Notice

Let Computers Do What They Do Well

It’s almost 2017. What’s more, the site started at the end of 2015 (29 November is the first time that Archive.org noticed it). So they put in the copyright notice and never looked back.

I know: putting the copyright notice on the bottom of webpages is a pain. Many sites wait well into January before they finally get around to moving to the new year. And some take a good deal longer than that. There is no reason for this! Computers are great at doing really boring stuff like displaying the current year in your copyright notice.

There is an endless number of ways to solve the problem. If you look, you will see that at the bottom of every page on Frankly Curious is this:

Frankly Curious - 2016 Copyright Notice

And the wonderful thing is that at 0:00 on 1 January 2017, that will say, “© 2009-2017 Frank Moraes.” I never have to think about the issue except when I go to otherwise well designed websites that claim that fine articles published on 19 November 2016 have a 2015 copyright.

Automating Your Copyright Notice

There are a lot of ways to do this. It’s a single line of PHP code for instance. (WordPress is written primarily in PHP)

<?php
echo "&copy; 2009-" . date("Y") . " Frank Moraes";
?>

That has the advantage of not requiring that the web browser be running JavaScript. Of course, there are very few people who have JavaScript turned off in their browsers. But if you want to create a website that doesn’t require JavaScript, that’s one way to do it. It can be done with any other backend language like Ruby or C# or whatever.

The JavaScript Solution

It’s very easy to do in JavaScript. And you can even set it up so that it works without JavaScript, but those users will have to wait for you to update the year before they see things correctly.

&copy; 2009 -
<script>
<!--
document.write(" " + new Date().getFullYear());
//-->
</script>
<noscript>
2016
</noscript>
Frank Moraes

Now this has the disadvantage that it does have to be maintained. It’s just automatic for the vast majority of your visitors. It’s also the case that it doesn’t work with my WordPress theme. The <noscript> tag is just stripped out and I end up with two “2016” strings. So I use the much simpler solution:

&copy; 2009-<script>document.write(new Date().getFullYear());</script> Frank Moraes

If JavaScript is enabled, the visitor sees the normal thing, “© 2009-2016 Frank Moraes.” But if they don’t, they see “© 2009- Frank Moraes.” Since the copyright notice isn’t necessary as a legal matter, this actually works just fine. Constructions such as “2009-” tend to be interpreted as “2009 to the present.”

Given this, one wouldn’t necessarily need to do anything but to put in “&copy; 2009- Frank Moraes.” But I think having the current year is clearer and gives the reader the impression that the website owner takes copyright more seriously.

Regardless, none of this is difficult. All anyone has to do is copy and paste some code. I’ll even provide it for the folks at Current Affairs:

<span id="copyright">&copy; 2015-<script>document.write(new Date().getFullYear());</script> Current Affairs</span>

Now they have no excuse. Not that they did before…

Breitbart Is an Antisemitic Website

BreitbartBreitbart states that the “origins” of the alt-right can be found in “thinkers as diverse as… Oswald Spengler, H L Mencken, Julius Evola, Sam Francis, and… Pat Buchanan.” It’s an odd collection of forerunners, with a few unknown figures. But note that every single one of the “diverse” thinkers from which alt-right ideas originate has one thing in common. The editor of Mencken’s works found him “clearly and unequivocally” antisemitic, calling Jews “the most unpleasant race ever heard of.” Julius Evola was also a notorious antisemite, and wrote an introduction to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Sam Francis thanked Billy Graham for daring to point out the Jewish “stranglehold” on American media and believed Jews were the technocratic operatives of a managerial class that dominated society. Pat Buchanan has long been notorious, and watched closely by the Anti-Defamation League, for his statements on Jewish political dominance. And while Spengler personally disowned antisemitism, he was the favored philosopher of the Third Reich and his theories have a prominent place in neo-Nazi thinking.

Thus it’s curious that this should be the entire list of thinkers Breitbart itself posits as inspiring the alt-right. After all, it’s a fairly eclectic and obscure group of writers to cite… unless you’re an antisemite. To lay it out step-by-step, then: (1) [Stevphen] Bannon says openly that he wishes Breitbart to be a platform for the alt-right. (2) Breitbart‘s own guide to the alt-right cites only five intellectual influences. (3) Four out of five of these influences are openly antisemitic, and the other is beloved by Nazis.

–Oren Nimni and Nathan J Robinson
Alan Dershowitz Takes Antisemitism Very Seriously Indeed

[Note: the article itself is about the hypocrisy of Alan Dershowitz and how he says we can’t call Breitbart editor Stephen Bannon antisemitic because there isn’t enough evidence. The article documents all the people who Dershowitz found were antisemitic like Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu. I recommend reading the whole (short) article. -FM]