Copyright is an automatic protection you gain when producing an original work, ultimately preventing others from using it. It is a form of intellectual property that gives creative individuals ownership, entitling them to royalties and sole control over the production of their work. In the UK you don’t have to apply or pay a fee as their is not a place to register copyright works in the UK.

You automatically gain copyright protection when you;

  1. Original literary, musical, dramatic and artistic work, including photography and illustration.
  2. Original non-literary work, including software, web content and databases.
  3. Sound recordings.
  4. Film and television recordings.
  5. Broadcasts.
  6. Layout of published editions of written, dramatic or musical works.

You gain a copyright symbol (©), your name and the date  of its creation. Note that a copyright does not depend at all on artistic quality. Whether you mark the work or not doesn’t affect the level of protection you have as they are given upon creation.

What does having a Copyright actually mean?

It is pertinent to first discuss the classification of an author of creative work.

A single author is an individual, who is solely responsible for the production of the work, whilst it is possible to have joint owners there work and contributions must be indistinguishable from one another.

Copyright prevents people from:

  1. Copying your work.
  2. Distributing copies of work, without your consent.
  3. Playing/ performing your work in a public space, without your consent.
  4. Putting it on the internet, without your consent.
  5. Adapting your work.

The copyright lasts 70 years following the death of the works author. For unknown authors it lasts 70 years from the end of the work’s creation year, when the work was first made public.

Different rules are stipulated based on the place of creation. Different jurisdictions have different laws, and whether the work was created in the course of employment. If a work was made during employment, and the employee signed away their copyrights, the commissioner of the work or employer may be the first copyright holder.

Moral Copyright

These rights are a group of personal rights given exclusively to the creator(s) of the copyrighted work. They were introduced in 1989 as part of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Acts 1988, and came into force in 1989.

They include;

  • The Right to Privacy:
      1. Right to prevent private works, exhibited at a private event for example, to not have their work disseminated into the public sphere. This right lasts as long as the work maintains it copyright.
  • The Right to Integrity:
      1. Right to respond to negative treatment of their work. Lasts as long as the copyright is held.
  • The Partnerty Right:
      1. Right of an artist to be identified whenever, and wherever the work is published, exhibited to the public or in existence in the public sphere. This right lasts as long as the copyright exists.
  • False Attribution:
    1. Right to not be identified as the creator of work created by someone else. Lasts the creator’s lifetime, plus 20 years,

To have a look at the UK government complicated list of applicable copyright laws, and legal thresholds, please see:

Copyright is fast becoming the battleground for complex litigation, arbitration and heavy cost,  arising from the internet- everything is so easily  publicly accessible.  The Linkilaw legal community are at the forefront of the copyright legal trenches, and have fought on behalf of several high profile brands. Please do not hesitate to contact Linkilaw, we will equip you with the best legal advice, personalities at a fraction of the cost.