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Copyright Information

The Copyright Protection Service is an aid to help protect your copyright worldwide by independent dated registration of your work with our service, including with advice from a leading copyright specialist for members. You can register your work from any country. Click here to go to our home page for more information.

The following copyright information is by kind permission of the Intellectual Property Office, the operating name of The Patent Office. The Intellectual Property Office is the official government body responsible for intellectual property rights in the UK.



What copyright applies to
The benefits of copyright protection
How long copyright lasts
Ownership of copyright works
Managing and enforcing your copyright
Selling/licensing your copyright
Other people's copyright works and gaining permissions
Other copyright protection
Copyright Abroad





What copyright applies to, and what is protected by copyright


Copyright applies to original works View more


Copyright protects the following and gives rights to the creators of the following kinds of material or "works":

* Original literary works - for example, novels, newspaper articles, lyrics for songs, and instruction manuals. Computer programs are also a form of literary work protected by copyright, as are some types of databases
* Original dramatic works, including works of dance or mime;
* Original musical works;
* Original artistic works - for example, paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, photographs, diagrams, maps, works of architecture and works of artistic craftsmanship;
* Published editions of literary, dramatic or musical works. Protection in this case is of the typographical arrangement of the edition;
* Sound recordings, in any form (e.g. tape or compact disc) - they can be recordings of other copyright works, such as music or literature,or other sounds;
* Films, including videos and digital versatile discs (DVDs);
* Broadcasts, which may be transmitted by cable or wireless means and including satellite broadcasts, but excluding most transmissions on the internet.

Copyright does not protect ideas, names or titles, or functional or industrial articles.


You should only copy or use a work protected by copyright with the copyright owner's permission.

Copyright applies to any medium. This means that you must not reproduce copyright protected work in another medium without permission. This includes, publishing photographs on the internet, making a sound recording of a book, a painting of a photograph and so on.

Copyright does not protect ideas for a work. It is only when the work itself is fixed, for example in writing, that copyright automatically protects it. This means that you do not have to apply for copyright.

A copyright protected work can have more than one copyright, or another intellectual property (IP) right, connected to it. For example, an album of music can have separate copyrights for individual songs, sound recordings, artwork, and so on. Whilst copyright can protect the artwork of your logo, you could also register the logo as a trade mark. Click here for free legal advice on trademarks.



Original works

A work can only be original if it is the result of independent creative effort. It will not be original if it has been copied from something that already exists. If it is similar to something that already exists but there has been no copying from the existing work either directly or indirectly, then it may be original.

The term "original" also involves a test of substantiality - literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works will not be original if there has not been sufficient skill and labour expended in their creation. But, sometimes significant investment of resources without significant intellectual input can still count as sufficient skill and labour.

Ultimately, only the courts can decide whether something is original.

There is much case law indicating, for example, that names and titles do not have sufficient substantiality to be original and that, where an existing work is widely known, it will be difficult to convince a court that there has been no copying if your work is very similar or identical.
Works that are not required to be original

Sound recordings, films and published editions do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if they have been copied from existing sound recordings, films and published editions.

Broadcasts do not have to be original, but there will be no copyright, if, or to the extent that, they infringe copyright in another broadcast.



The benefits of copyright protection


Copyright allows you to protect your original material and stops others from using your work without your permission. The existence of copyright may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit your material. If it does not, it gives you the right to take legal action to stop them exploiting your copyright, and to claim damages.

By understanding and using your copyright and related rights protection, you can:

* sell the copyright but retain the moral rights.
* license your copyright for use by others but retain the ownership.
* object if your work is distorted or mutilated.

Copyright gives the right owner numerous exclusive economic rights



How long copyright lasts


The length of time a copyright work is protected will depend upon the category or type of work and is usually calculated from the death of the creator.

Written, Theatrical, Musical, Artistic and Film

The written category also includes software and databases

Other types of work have different terms of protection:

* Sound Recordings
* Broadcasts
* Published editions


Written, Theatrical, Musical, Artistic and Film

The term of protection or duration of copyright varies depending on the type of copyright work. The term of protection in the UK for an original written (literary), theatrical (dramatic) musical or artistic work lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years from the end of the year in which he/she died.

Similarly, copyright in a film runs out 70 years after the end of the year in which the death occurs of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, or the composer of any music specially created for the film.

Both software (computer programs) and databases are able to be protected as literary works.

Where two or more people have created a single work protected by copyright and where the contribution of each author is not distinct from that of the other(s), those people are generally joint authors and joint first owners. The term of copyright protection in such a work is calculated with reference to the date of the death of the last surviving author.

Any sound recording made of a song will be protected for a different period of time from the underlying music or lyrics.

You should also note that. for copyright works originating outside the UK or another country of the European Economic Area (EEA), the term of protection may be shorter if it is shorter in the country of origin. There may also be variations in the term where a work was created before 1 January 1996.


Sound recordings

There will usually be more than one copyright associated with a song. If you are the composer of the music you will be the author of the musical work and will have copyright in that music. The lyrics of the song are protected separately by copyright as a literary work and will usually be owned by the person who wrote them. The term of protection for an original musical and literary work is the creator's life plus 70 years from the end of the year in which he/she dies

If a song is recorded then copyright in this sound recording lasts for 50 years from the end of the year in which it was made or, if published in this time, 50 years from the end of the year of publication. If the recording is not published during that 50 year period, but it is played in public or communicated to the public during that period, then copyright will last for 50 years from when this happens.

Sound recordings do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if they have been copied from existing sound recordings.

Sound recordings may also contain performers' rights


Broadcasts

Copyright in a broadcast expires 50 years from the end of the year of the making of the broadcast.

A broadcast does not have to be original, but there will be no copyright, if, or to the extent that, it infringes copyright in another broadcast.


Published editions

Copyright in the typographical arrangement of a published edition expires 25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published.

Published editions do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if the typographical arrangement has been copied from existing published editions.

This copyright should not be confused with the publication right


Ownership of copyright works

Creator and first owner

The creator of an original copyright work is usually the first owner.

Works created for an employer

The same rule does not apply for works created by an employee in the course of his employment.
Commissioned works

For some works the rule governing commissioned works changed in 1989.

Joint authors

A single work may be created and owned by more than one person. 


Creator and first owner

In the case of written (including software and databases) theatrical, musical or artistic (including photographic) works, the author or creator of the work is also the first owner of any copyright in it. The only exception to this is where the work is made by an employee in the course of his or her employment. In some situations two or more people may be joint authors and joint owners of copyright.

In the case of a film, the principal director and the film producer are joint authors and first owners of the copyright (and the economic rights). Similar provisions to those referred to above, apply where the director is employed by someone.

In the case of a sound recording the author and first owner of copyright is the record producer, in the case of a broadcast, the broadcaster; and in the case of a published edition, the publisher.

Copyright is, however, a form of property which, like physical property, can be bought or sold, inherited or otherwise transferred, wholly or in part. So, some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the original creator or first owner. In contrast, the moral rights accorded to authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death. Such moral rights will last as long as copyright lasts provided the creator did not waive his moral rights.


Works created for an employer

In the case of a written, theatrical, musical or artistic work, the author or creator of the work is also the first owner of any copyright in it. The only exception to this is where the work is made by an employee in the course of his or her employment.

Where a written, theatrical, musical or artistic work, or a film, is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work (subject to any agreement to the contrary). In the course of employment is not defined by the Act but in settling disputes the courts have typically had to decide whether the employee was working under 'contract of service'.

Where a person works under a 'contract for services' he may be considered by the courts to be an independent contractor and his works may then be considered to be commissioned works.

An employer should keep careful records of which person(s) created the work for them which they own. The period of copyright protection may still be linked to the date of the death of the creator(s) - that is the employee(s).

Commissioned works

When you ask or commission another person or organisation to create a copyright work for you, the first legal owner of copyright is the person or organisation that created the work and not you the commissioner, unless you otherwise agree it in writing.

Even though the legal owner of copyright is the creator, it is possible that the commissioner may be considered by the courts to be the beneficial owner of copyright and therefore entitled to legal ownership. This could be where you intend to stop others using or copying the work that has been commissioned for instance a logo designed to be used as your trade mark.

Whilst it might sometimes be possible for a commissioner to argue that he is the beneficial owner of copyright, it is wiser that copyright issues are dealt with as part of the contract so that everyone knows where they stand. In copyright law, it is possible to set out beforehand who will be the owner of copyright in a work yet to be created. It is therefore sensible for an agreement about a commission to cover ownership of this future copyright if it is desired that you, rather than the creator, should be the owner. The agreement must be in writing signed by or on behalf of the creator to be effective. Commissioning contracts can also cover who is licensed to use the copyright material to be created

If the commissioning contract does not deal with copyright, it may still be possible for you to use the copyright work that you commissioned without seeking permission, but only for the specific purpose that was understood by everyone at the time of the commission (an implied licence could be argued to exist.) For any other uses, it will normally be necessary to ask the creator for permission.

Prior to 1 August 1989 though, the copyright in photographs, portraits and engravings (and only those types of work) which were created as a result of a commission were owned by the commissioner and NOT the creator. Therefore at that time, if you commissioned someone to take photographs for you for instance of your wedding party, then you would be the owner of the copyright in those photographs. The commission though must have been undertaken for money or money’s worth that is equivalent goods or services.

Joint authors

Where two or more people have created a single work protected by copyright and the contribution of each author is not distinct from that of the other(s), those people are generally joint authors and joint first owners (although this might not apply where, for example, these people are employees).

Joint ownership might arise, for example, if a person was commissioned to create a website together with one of the company's employees. It is likely that both the person being commissioned, and the company, would be joint first owners of copyright in the website. If someone wanted to copy or use a work of joint ownership in some way, all of the owners would have to agree to such a request, otherwise an infringement of copyright could still occur.

On the other hand where individual contributions are distinct or separate, each person would be the author of the part they created for instance where the music and lyrics of a song are created by two different people. In these circumstances, if you wished to use just the lyrics you would only need the permission of the copyright owner of those, but copying of the whole song would obviously need the permission of the copyright owner of the music too.

Of course, ownership of copyright can be transferred, so where something is produced that has involved contributions from more than one person, it would be possible for copyright in all the material to be owned by one person as a result of appropriate transfers. Indeed, collaborators can agree in advance that copyright in what is to be produced should be owned by a single person or body. This could be helpful when permission needs to be given in the future. However, alternative solutions that might be equally helpful could involve all parties agreeing licensing arrangements in advance.


Managing your copyright


Copyright gives the owner numerous economic rights. In order to reap the benefit of those rights you will need to know how to use your copyright effectively.

Copyright is said to be infringed if someone uses the whole or a substantial part of a copyright protected work without the permission of the owner. In the situation where your copyright is infringed enforcing your right is therefore important.

Using and enforcing your copyright

Using your copyright

As a copyright owner you have the right to decide whether and how your copyright work is used. This may be by granting a licence to allow others to use your work or marketing your work yourself to try to gain rewards for your efforts.

The purpose of copyright is to allow creators to gain economic rewards for their efforts and so encourage future creativity and the development of new material which benefits us all.

Copyright material is usually the result of creative skill, significant labour and/or investment, and, without protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator.

Most uses of copyright material therefore require permission from the copyright owner. However there are exceptions to copyright, so that some minor uses may not infringe copyright.

Enforcing your copyright

This section contains details of how to enforce copyright when somebody uses your work without your permission.

Copyright is essentially a private right so decisions about how to enforce your right, that is what to do when your copyright work is used without your permission, are generally for you to take.

Where the whole or a substantial part of your work has been used without your permission and none of the exceptions to copyright apply, your copyright is said to have been infringed.

Although you do not have to, it will usually be sensible, and save you time and money, to try to resolve the matter with the party you think has infringed your copyright. In some cases it may be necessary to show the court that you have tried to solve the matter with the other party for instance through mediation, before starting court proceedings.

If you cannot resolve the matter with the other party, then going to court may be the right solution. But it would be a good idea to seek legal advice at an early stage, and to consider alternative solutions such as mediation before going to court.

One of the many organisations representing copyright owners may also be able to give you advice, or, if you are a member, sometimes act on your behalf.

If you do go to court, the courts can:

* stop that person making further infringing use of the material by granting an injunction
* award the copyright owner damages
* make the infringing party give up the goods to the copyright owner.

Deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale may be a criminal offence when additional remedies are also available.

Alternative Dispute Resolution / Mediation


Mediation is one form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It allows opposing parties to talk about their dispute and, hopefully, come to an agreement without the need for a court hearing. The mediator’s job is not to reach a decision on the dispute but to help the parties work out possible solutions to it.

Why use mediation?

* Mediation requires the agreement of both parties and allows a worldwide dispute to be settled in one course of action.
* It can cover a broader range of issues than those that are the subject of the litigation.
* It settles disputes more quickly.
* It contributes to the more efficient use of judicial resources.
* An agreement reached through Mediation can be positive for all parties involved. For example, so called "win win" results of licensing or supply contracts that the courts cannot award.

How do I use mediation?

The Intellectual Property Office (UK) maintain a list of other mediation providers so that you can choose who you want to mediate.

Selling/Licensing your copyright

Copyright is a form of Intellectual Property, and like any form of property it can be bought, sold, transferred, inherited, and so on. If you do decide to sell or transfer your copyright there would need to be a written, signed contract stating a transfer has taken place. This is known as an assignment.

You should note that with certain copyright material even if the creator sells the copyright in the work they will still have moral rights. This means that for instance the creator will still have the right to be identified as the author (providing he had claimed that right previously) and to object to any derogatory treatment of the work. Moral rights in a work can not be transferred or 'assigned' but a creator is entitled to waive those rights.

Contractual agreement

Unless a copyright owner is the only person going to use his or her copyright work then contracts are likely to be agreed at some point about the copyright work. General law such as company law and competition law may govern what is acceptable in a contractual agreement. A copyright owner may wish to seek advice from a lawyer, perhaps one specialising in copyright and contract law, before proceeding.

Contractual agreements are likely to be important when a copyright owner:

* needs a partner to help exploit the copyright work;
* wishes to negotiate the sale or other transfer of the copyright;
* would like to agree a licence with someone else who wants to use the copyright work;
* would like someone else, such as a collecting society, to administer some or all of the economic rights.

In some cases it might be important to obtain an agreement/contract of confidentiality while negotiating copyright matters, especially if the work has not been published.

Licensing your copyright

As a copyright owner, it is for you to decide whether and how to license use of your work.

An exclusive licence could be granted, but remember that this enables the licensee to use the copyright work to the exclusion of all others, including the copyright owner. Any licence agreed can relate to one or more of the economic rights and can also be limited in time or any other way. It is a contractual agreement between the copyright owner and user. Sometimes people may be able to argue that a copyright work is subject to an implied licence even when there has been no agreement about a licence.

Some people prefer to allow limited access to their work without charge. One way to do this is by using a Creative Commons Licence External Link.


Permitted uses of your copyright work

Another person would not normally need to seek permission from you if they wish to use less than a substantial part of your copyright protected work. Additionally there are a number of exceptions which allow limited use of your copyright works without seeking your permission.

Enforcing copyright

Copyright is essentially a private right so decisions about how to enforce your right, that is what to do when your copyright work is used without your permission, are generally for you to take.

Where the whole or a substantial part of your work has been used without your permission and none of the exceptions to copyright apply, your copyright is said to have been infringed.

Although you do not have to, it will usually be sensible, and save you time and money, to try to resolve the matter with the party you think has infringed your copyright. In some cases it may be necessary to show the court that you have tried to solve the matter with the other party for instance through mediation, before starting court proceedings.

If you cannot resolve the matter with the other party, then going to court may be the right solution. But it would be a good idea to seek legal advice at an early stage, and to consider alternative solutions such as mediation before going to court.

One of the many organisations representing copyright owners may also be able to give you advice, or, if you are a member, sometimes act on your behalf.

If you do go to court, the courts can:

* stop that person making further infringing use of the material by granting an injunction
* award the copyright owner damages
* make the infringing party give up the goods to the copyright owner.

Deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale may be a criminal offence when additional remedies are also available.

Substantial part

Copyright is infringed where either the whole or a substantial part of a work is used without permission, unless the copying falls within the scope of one of the copyright exceptions.

A substantial part is not defined in copyright law but has been interpreted by the courts to mean a qualitatively significant part of a work even where this is not a large part of the work. Therefore, it is quite likely that even a small portion of the whole work will still be a substantial part.

All the other economic rights also apply where the whole or a substantial part is to be used, but it is worth considering whether the use falls within the scope of any of the copyright exceptions.

Copyright crime - additional remedies

Copyright is essentially a private right so decisions about how to enforce the right, that is what to do when your copyright work is used without your permission, are generally for you to take. Nevertheless, deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale may be a criminal offence. This activity is usually known as copyright piracy and is often also linked to wilful infringement of trade marks known as counterfeiting where criminal offences also exist. Piracy and counterfeiting are often also referred to as intellectual property or IP crime.

So, if the infringement of your copyright work is intentional, is on a large scale and copies of your work are being made for sale, being imported, distributed, sold or put on the internet, then it may be worth informing the Police or your local Trading Standards Department. They can decide whether action by them, including possible prosecution, is justified.

However, they are unlikely to be able to take any action at all unless you are able to co-operate fully, including by providing good intelligence about the crime, helping to identify infringing goods, assisting with the preparation of evidence, being prepared to appear in court and so on.

Further information on deliberate copyright infringement on a commercial scale can be found on the What is IP crime? for more information.

What is IP crime?

If you own an intellectual property (IP) right such as a copyright, design, patent or trade mark, then others can not manufacture, use, sell or import it without prior permission. Unauthorised use of someone's IP can be classed as IP crime and may lead to prosecution.

Counterfeiting generally relates to wilful trade mark infringement, while piracy generally relates to wilful copyright infringement.

Examples of counterfeiting could be:

* clothing
* footwear
* handbags
* perfume
* automotive parts
* pharmaceuticals


Examples of piracy could be:

* Digital Versatile Discs (DVD's)
* Compact Discs (CD's)
* unauthorised downloading of music from the internet
* Software


There is a fine line between counterfeiting and piracy and it’s not uncommon for the two to overlap.
How do you enforce your IP rights?

As an IP right owner you can show your IP is protected and take legal action using civil law provisions to seek injuctions and or claim damages if your IP right is infringed.You should seek advice from a legal professional (such as a Patent or Trade Mark attorney) before entering into any disputes. You can safeguard against legal costs by taking out an insurance policy.

The unauthorised use of your IP is a criminal offence in some instances and can lead to prosecution under Section 94 of the Trade Mark Act in relation to Trade Mark infringement, and Sections 107A and 198 of the Copyright, Design, and Patent Act in relation to Copyright infringement.

It may be worthwhile, however, for you to try and find a solution with the infringer before taking any potentially costly legal action. (link to resolving disputes Mediation)

Other people's copyright works and gaining permissions

As well as owning copyright works yourself, you may wish to make use of someone else's copyright protected works. There are certain very specific situations where you may be permitted to do so without seeking permission from the owner.

If your use does not fall within these exceptions then you may consider buying the copyright or, as is more usually the case, obtaining a licence from the owner for your agreed use.

Locating the copyright owner can sometimes be difficult but failure to get permission may result in legal action against you.


Permitted uses of copyright works

You would not normally need to seek permission if you wish to use less than a substantial part of a copyright protected work. Additionally there are a number of exceptions in copyright law which allow limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner. These can be found in the copyright sections of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) PDF document(1.27Mb)

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and particular care should be taken if you intend to rely on an exception:

* Non-commercial research and private study
* Criticism, review and reporting current events
* Teaching in educational establishments
* Not for profit public playing of recorded music
* Helping visually impaired people
* Time shifting

Certain exceptions require you to give sufficient acknowledgment when making use of a copyright protected work.

It is not an infringement of the copyright in a work if you draw, take a photograph or make a film of, buildings or sculptures or works of artistic craftsmanship which are located in a public places or in premises open to the public.

Copyright is not infringed in any material when it is used in legal proceedings.

Copy protection measures (DRM's)

Digital Rights Management Systems - DRMs - are a term commonly used to describe a wide range of technical measures that are licensed for controlling, measuring and enabling use of copyright protected digital content.

Such systems cover a range of technologies with different purposes such as:

* Systems to identify owners rights and give information on licensing , e.g. to enable collecting societies to accurately pay royalties - Rights management Information (RMI);
* Copy protection systems to prevent unauthorised coping, e.g. may prevent consumers from transferring films stored on DVD to a computer hard drive - Technical Protection Measures (TPM)

Permitted acts

Whilst it may be legitimate for right holders to use these tools to prevent copyright infringement, they can also prevent permitted activities that fall under copyright exceptions.

The exceptions for use of DRM protected works are narrow, but if you consider your use falls under one of the exceptions you may request a workaround to the protection measure from the right holder.

Under UK copyright law, if the right holder does not provide an effective workaround, you may issue a ‘notice of complaint’ to the Secretary of State. If your complaint is upheld the Secretary of State may issue directions on how to ensure that you are able to make use of the work in the way permitted by law.

Using and buying other people's copyright works

Copyright is a type of intellectual property. Like physical property, it cannot usually be used without the owner's permission. Of course, the copyright owner may refuse to give permission for use of their work.

It is important to remember that just buying or owning the original or a copy of a copyright work does not give you permission to use it how you wish. For example, buying a copy of a book, CD, video, computer program and so on, does not necessarily give you the right to make extra copies (even for private use), or to play or show them in public.

Other everyday uses of copyright material, such as photocopying, scanning, downloading from a CD-ROM or on-line database, all involve copying the work so permission from the copyright owner is generally needed. Also use going beyond any agreed licence that you have already got will require further permission.

Some minor uses may fall within the scope of one of the exceptions to copyright, but if you want to use a copyright work, you will usually need to approach the copyright owner and ask to purchase the actual copyright in the work or, as is more usual, negotiate a licence to cover the use you intend to make of the work.

A licence is a contract between you and the copyright owner and it is for both parties to negotiate the terms and conditions, including the payment or royalty for the use. There are no rules in copyright law governing what may be acceptable terms and conditions, but other law, particularly competition law, might be relevant to licence agreements. Sometimes copyright owners act collectively to licence certain uses and collective licensing bodies can be approached for a licence. There are many organisations that represent copyright owners and users.

Like any form of property copyright can be bought, sold, transferred, inherited, and so on. If you wish to buy someone's copyright there would need to be a written, signed contract stating the transfer of right to you has taken place. This is known as an assignment.

You should note that with certain copyright material even if the creator sells the copyright in the work to you they will still have moral rights. This means that for instance the creator will still have the right to be identified as the author (providing he had claimed that right previously) and to object to any derogatory treatment of the work. Moral rights in a work can not be transferred or 'assigned' but a creator is entitled to waive that is chose not to exercise those rights. This would again have to be in writing.


Obtaining a licence from a copyright owner

If you want to use a work that is under copyright, it is likely that you will need to approach the copyright owner in order to obtain a licence unless one of the exceptions to copyright that may allow you to use a limited amount of the work applies.

Exclusive licence

An exclusive licence could be granted, but remember that this enables the licensee to use the copyright work to the exclusion of all others, including the copyright owner. Any licence agreed can relate to one or more of the economic rights and can also be limited in time or any other way. It is a contractual agreement between the copyright owner and user.

Limited use licence

Often a copyright owner will only give permission for some uses of a work, for example, publication of a photograph in a particular newspaper, and if you want to use the work in any other way, for example, by publishing the photograph in a magazine, you will need to seek further permission.
Creative commons licence

Some people prefer to allow limited access to their work without charge. One way to do this is by using a Creative Commons Licence External Link.

Collecting Societies

In some situations, copyright owners find it difficult to license use of their works by themselves and so they have formed organisations, called collecting societies or collective licensing bodies. These act collectively on their behalf to give permissions, grant licences and collect royalties. Further information on collecting societies is available.

Locating a copyright owner

If you want to use someone else's material which is still protected by copyright, and if there is no exception to copyright which covers the situation, you need to seek the permission of the right holder.

You may therefore need to consider who owns or controls the rights in the material. This person could be:

* the creator of the material or his heirs, or
* the creator's employer, or
* anyone else to whom the rights in the material have been sold, or otherwise transferred or licensed, or
* a collective licensing society which has been asked to collect fees on behalf of the rights holder.

You should remember that as copyright is an automatic right, there are no registers that can be checked to locate the creator or right holder in a work. There are though organisations representing copyright owners who may be able to assist you in tracking them down.

The copyright protection for many works will continue for 70 years after the creator or owner of the rights in a work has died. The rights will have transferred to someone else, perhaps through testamentary deposition (a will) or by inheritance. If there was no will, or if the creator of the work has not specified where the rights in the material should go, then the normal rules of inheritance will apply. (These rules are not specific to copyright, and advice should be sought from a legal adviser.)

When a company goes out of business or ceases trading, any copyright it may own continues for the customary copyright duration. The rights will be part of the assets of the company, and may be sold or otherwise dealt with by the company or its liquidator, etc.

If you wish to trace a right holder, there is no official body that can help you directly, but you could try the following:

* Contact the appropriate collecting society (see the above link).
* Contact the creator's publisher, agent, representative etc.
* Carry out internet searches on various search engines.
* Establish any family connection.
* Use the WATCH External Link file, (Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders) - a joint project of the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom, and the University of Austin, Texas, USA. They hold a list of some right holder contacts for some authors and artists.

Please note that if you are having difficulty locating a right holder, you should keep good records of your efforts. (This will help to show that you have been trying to act in good faith.) If you are unsuccessful in tracing the right holder, and still wish to proceed with your project, you should do so with caution. You may wish to set aside an appropriate fee for the use of the work in a special bank account, and, when you use the work, apply a statement indicating that you have tried to trace the right holder, but have failed to do so, and then invite any legitimate right holder to contact you. You should bear in mind that should the right owner appear, they may consider suing you for infringement of their rights, and in such a case you would want to show the right holder, and perhaps the courts, that you have acted in good faith and have made reasonable efforts to try to track down the right holder.




Other protection

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) sets out a number of other important rights associated with the creation of works:

Moral rights

Moral rights, such as the right to object to the derogatory treatment of your work, last for as long as copyright lasts in the work. Moral rights cannot be sold or transferred but the the creator can waive or chose not to exercise them.

Performers' rights

Performers have various rights in their performances as well as in the recordings or broadcasts of their performances.

Publication right

Publication right gives you rights equivalent to copyright if you publish for the first time a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a film in which copyright has expired.

Database right

In addition to or instead of copyright protection, a database may be protected by the 'database right'. This is intended to protect and reward investment in the creation and arrangement of databases.

Conditional access technology

Conditional access technology generally refers to technical measures, such as smart cards or other decoders, which allow you to view or listen to encrypted broadcasts.

Copy protection devices

For copyright material issued to the public in an electronic form, you can use technical measures so that it is not possible to make a copy of the material, that is, it is copy-protected.

Moral rights

Moral rights give the authors of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works and film directors the right:

* to be identified as the author of the work or director of the film in certain circumstances, e.g. when copies are issued to the public.
* to object to derogatory treatment of the work or film which amounts to a distortion or mutilation or is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author or director.

In contrast to the economic rights under copyright, moral rights are concerned with protecting the personality and reputation of authors.

The right to be identified cannot be exercised unless it has been asserted, that is, the author or director has indicated their wish to exercise the right by giving notice to this effect (which generally has to be in writing and signed) to those seeking to use or exploit the work or film.

Moreover, the author or director can waive both the right to be identified and the right to object to derogatory treatment.

There are a number of situations within which these rights do not apply including:

* where the work is a computer program
* where ownership of a work originally vested in an author's employer
* where the material is being used in newspapers or magazines
* reference works such as encyclopaedias or dictionaries

Authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors are also granted the moral right not to have a work or film falsely attributed to them.

Performers also have Moral rights which include the right:

* to be identified as the performer and
* to object to derogatory treatment of performance.

Moral rights last for as long as copyright lasts in the work although the creator may waive, that is choose not to exercise, his or her moral rights. Unlike copyright they cannot be sold or assigned to another person.

Performers' rights

Performers are entitled to various rights in their performances, whether these take place on the stage, during a concert and so on. Performers also have rights in any recordings, films or broadcasts of their performances.

In many cases, but not always, the performance may be of a copyright work - literary, dramatic or musical - so the performers' rights will be in addition to the rights of copyright owners with respect to the performance and subsequent exploitation of any recording or broadcast of the performance.

A performer has the right to control the broadcasting of his or her live performance to the public. The permission of a performer must also be sought before a recording of the live performance is made. These are referred to as a performer's non-property rights.

Once a recording of the performance has been made, the performer's permission is also needed to make copies of that recording. A performer may be entitled to remuneration in respect of broadcasting, other types of communication to the public by electronic transmission, public performance and rental of those copies. These are a performer's property rights.

It will usually be necessary, therefore, to obtain permission from the performers in advance for activities that would infringe any of these rights.

A performer also has moral rights.

Publication right

Publication right gives rights broadly equivalent to copyright, to a person who publishes for the first time a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a film in which copyright has expired. However, there is one major difference, publication right only lasts for 25 years from the year of publication of the previously unpublished material.

It is important to note that the owner of publication right is the person who first publishes the unpublished material in which copyright has expired which will not necessary be the original owner of the copyright in the work.

This right should not be confused with the protection afforded published editions

Database right

A database, that is a collection of data or other material that is arranged in such a way so that the items are individually accessible, may be protected by copyright as a literary work and/or database right. This protection can apply to both paper and electronic databases.

For copyright protection to apply, the database must have originality in the selection or arrangement of the contents and for database right to apply, there must have been a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting its contents. It is possible that a database will satisfy both these requirements so that both copyright and database right apply.

There is no registration for database right - it is an automatic right like copyright and commences as soon as the material that can be protected exists in a recorded form. However, the term of protection under database right is much shorter than under copyright. Database right lasts for 15 years from making but, if published during this time, then the term is 15 years from publication.

Many databases are a collection of copyright works, such as a database of poetry from the last fifty years where each poem will also be protected by copyright. So people compiling databases need to make sure that they have permission from the copyright owners for use of their material and people using databases need to be aware of the rights of the owners of underlying works as well as database right owners.

Conditional access technology

Conditional access technology generally refers to technical measures, such as smart cards or other decoders, which allow users to view or listen to encrypted broadcasts.

Some broadcasts and other transmissions are in an encrypted form so that they can only be seen by a person who has the right decoding equipment, a system usually used when broadcasters wish to charge recipients of the transmission.

On payment of the appropriate fee a person is given or is entitled to use a decoder and view the transmission.

In the same way that people make illegal copies of copyright works, they may make unauthorised smart cards or other decoding equipment with the intention of selling them in competition with the legitimate decoders, and so depriving the broadcaster or cable operator of the payments that would normally be paid for reception of the transmissions.

The law therefore sets out in what circumstances it is illegal to make and sell or otherwise deal in unauthorised decoders: there may be criminal as well as civil penalties. If you use an illegal decoder to receive broadcasts you’re not entitled to, you may be committing an offence.

The Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum (TUFF) represents some makers of encrypted transmissions who are concerned about illegal decoders in the United Kingdom.




Copyright abroad

Usually your copyright work will be protected abroad automatically in the same way that it is protected in the UK.

The UK is a member of many international agreements including the Berne Convention, where the national law of each country automatically protects copyright works which are eligible for protection, under the rules of other countries who have signed these agreements.

Most countries, including all western European, the USA and Russia, now belong to the Berne Convention. Under this agreement, you do not have to mark your work in any way for automatic protection to apply. However, it is sensible to mark your work with the international © symbol, followed by the name of the copyright owner and year in which the work was created.

The USA does have an official register External Link of copyright works, although registration is not actually needed to qualify for copyright protection in the USA (or indeed any country that is a signatory of the Berne Convention).

Protection abroad can also arise from obligations in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. This forms part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) External Link agreement and may protect your work automatically. Details of the TRIPS agreement and a list of these countries are on their website.



Original works

A work can only be original if it is the result of independent creative effort. It will not be original if it has been copied from something that already exists. If it is similar to something that already exists but there has been no copying from the existing work either directly or indirectly, then it may be original.

The term "original" also involves a test of substantiality - literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works will not be original if there has not been sufficient skill and labour expended in their creation. But, sometimes significant investment of resources without significant intellectual input can still count as sufficient skill and labour.

Ultimately, only the courts can decide whether something is original.

There is much case law indicating, for example, that names and titles do not have sufficient substantiality to be original and that, where an existing work is widely known, it will be difficult to convince a court that there has been no copying if your work is very similar or identical.
Works that are not required to be original

Sound recordings, films and published editions do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if they have been copied from existing sound recordings, films and published editions.

Broadcasts do not have to be original, but there will be no copyright, if, or to the extent that, they infringe copyright in another broadcast.


Websites and the internet

Copyright applies to the internet in the same way as material in other media. For example, any photographs you place on the internet will be protected in the same way as other artistic works; any original written work will be protected as a literary work, and so on.

Downloads and uploads

If you download, distribute or put material on the internet that belongs to others you should ensure that you have the owners' permission, unless any of the exceptions apply.


Written works including software and databases

Copyright applies to original written works such as novels, newspaper articles, lyrics for songs, instruction manuals and so on. These are known as literary works.

There is no copyright in a name, title, slogan or phrase. But these may be eligible for registration as a trade mark, or a common-law action to prevent passing-off may give protection for unregistered trade marks. However, logos may be protected under copyright as artistic works and many trade marks may therefore also be copyright works.

You may need to get permission from a copyright owner if you wish to copy written work in any way, for example, photocopying, reproducing a printed page by handwriting or typing it or scanning into a computer ; or rent or lend books and so on, to the public, unless any exceptions apply.
Software

Software, that is computer programs, and games for games consoles are protected on the same basis as literary works. Conversion of a program into or between computer languages and codes corresponds to adapting a work. Storing any work in a computer amounts to copying the work. In addition, running a computer program or displaying work on a video display unit (VDU) will usually involve copying and thus require the consent of the copyright owner.

Databases

Databases may receive copyright protection for the selection and arrangement of the contents. In addition, or instead, database right may exist in a database. This is an automatic right and protects databases against the unauthorised removal and re-use of the contents of the database.

Database right

A database, that is a collection of data or other material that is arranged in such a way so that the items are individually accessible, may be protected by copyright as a literary work and/or database right. This protection can apply to both paper and electronic databases.

For copyright protection to apply, the database must have originality in the selection or arrangement of the contents and for database right to apply, there must have been a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting its contents. It is possible that a database will satisfy both these requirements so that both copyright and database right apply.

There is no registration for database right - it is an automatic right like copyright and commences as soon as the material that can be protected exists in a recorded form. However, the term of protection under database right is much shorter than under copyright. Database right lasts for 15 years from making but, if published during this time, then the term is 15 years from publication.

Many databases are a collection of copyright works, such as a database of poetry from the last fifty years where each poem will also be protected by copyright. So people compiling databases need to make sure that they have permission from the copyright owners for use of their material and people using databases need to be aware of the rights of the owners of underlying works as well as database right owners.


Theatre

Copyright applies to any original live theatrical performance such as ballet, opera, plays, musicals, pantomimes and so on. These are known as dramatic works.

In ballet, for instance, if the choreography of the dance has been recorded in writing or filmed, the dramatic performance of the dance itself could be entitled to copyright. As would any musical scores used, scripts, stage directions, and even any art work on the set design.

The performers of the play or ballet and so on could also be afforded protection as would any film or audio recording of the performance.

As with any other form of copyright work, if you wish to reproduce or perform a play or musical production, you should first seek permission from the copyright owners of any written work, music, recorded dance steps and so on.

Theatrical performances within schools

Within schools, if the performance or concert is only being watched by teachers and pupils as part of the activities of the school then you do not need permission from the copyright owner(s). This falls within the scope of one of the exceptions to copyright.

However, if parents are invited to watch the performance or concert, then you probably will need permission, unless you use only old material in which copyright has expired, such as Shakespeare's plays or Mozart's music.


Music

Copyright applies to a musical composition when it is set down in permanent form, either by writing it down or in any other manner. With a song there will usually be more than one copyright associated with it. If you are the composer of the music you will be the author of the musical work and will have copyright in that music. The lyrics of a song are protected separately by copyright as a literary work. The person who writes the lyrics will own the copyright in the words.

If your work is subsequently recorded the sound recording will also have copyright protection. The producer of the recording will own the copyright in the sound recording.

Composers of music may also have moral rights in their work.

Copyright is like any form of physical property in that you can buy it, sell it, inherit or otherwise transfer it, wholly or in part. Therefore, some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than you, the first owner.

Sound recordings

In the case of a sound recording the author and first owner of copyright is the record producer.

Sound recordings do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if they have been copied from existing sound recordings. It may be therefore that the courts would consider that your re-mastering of an existing recording does not have copyright protection.

Sound recordings may also contain Performers' rights


Sound recordings

In the case of a sound recording the author and first owner of copyright is the record producer.

Sound recordings do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if they have been copied from existing sound recordings. It may be therefore that the courts would consider that your re-mastering of an existing recording does not have copyright protection.

Sound recordings may also contain Performers' rights


Artistic works including photographs

Copyright applies to original artistic works such as paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, photographs, diagrams, maps, works of architecture and works of artistic craftsmanship.

So, for example, cartoon characters may have copyright protection and if you wish to copy the characters onto cakes, wallpaper and so on, you will almost certainly need a licence to do this to avoid infringing copyright.

If you wish to use or copy copyright protected artistic works you may need permission from the right holder, unless copyright exceptions apply.

In the case of a drawing of an article to be mass-produced, there will only be copyright in the article made to the design in the drawing if the article itself is also an artistic work. This would have included something that could be called a work of artistic craftsmanship. However, design right protection might exist for such an industrially produced item even if there is no copyright. Applying for a registered design is another possibility.

If you want to reproduce existing Royal emblems such as Coats of Arms External Link on any souvenirs, you will need permission from the Lord Chamberlain's Office.


Spoken word and performers

There is no copyright in speech unless and until it is recorded. If your speech is recorded, either in writing or by other means such as by electronic means, then the words of your speech will be protected as a literary work.

If you perform a dramatic work, such as a play, or record your performance on an audio cassette or CD you may also be entitled to performers' rights.

Performers' rights

Performers are entitled to various rights in their performances, whether these take place on the stage, during a concert and so on. Performers also have rights in any recordings, films or broadcasts of their performances.

In many cases, but not always, the performance may be of a copyright work - literary, dramatic or musical - so the performers' rights will be in addition to the rights of copyright owners with respect to the performance and subsequent exploitation of any recording or broadcast of the performance.

A performer has the right to control the broadcasting of his or her live performance to the public. The permission of a performer must also be sought before a recording of the live performance is made. These are referred to as a performer's non-property rights.

Once a recording of the performance has been made, the performer's permission is also needed to make copies of that recording. A performer may be entitled to remuneration in respect of broadcasting, other types of communication to the public by electronic transmission, public performance and rental of those copies. These are a performer's property rights.

It will usually be necessary, therefore, to obtain permission from the performers in advance for activities that would infringe any of these rights.

A performer also has moral rights.


TV and films

For TV productions and films, copyright may exist on a number of its components, for example, the original screenplay, the music score and so on. If you produced the TV show or film then you would normally obtain the rights to, or gain permission to use, the works required to make the production.

You will not infringe the copyright in a broadcast if you make a recording of a TV programme in your own home to watch later. For any other use you may need the permission for the rights holder, unless copyright exceptions apply.

Broadcasts, which may be transmitted by cable or wireless means, including satellite broadcasts, but excluding most transmissions on the internet, afford copyright protection in addition to any copyright in the content of broadcasts such as films, music and literary material.

Films do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if they have been copied from existing films. Broadcasts do not have to be original, but there will be no copyright, if, or to the extent that, they infringe copyright in another broadcast.


Published editions

Published editions of literary works include books, magazines, anthologies of poems and so on.

There may be one or more copyright owner of the material. The publication itself may also be afforded copyright protection for the typographical arrangement of the edition.

The typographical arrangement of a published edition does not have to be original but it will not be a new copyright work if it has been copied from existing published editions.





Writing Music Art Film Theatre Computer Programs Design Dance Photography Television Other