Copyright protects cultural works…

Copyright regulates the use of a range of cultural works such as books, songs, films and computer programs. To qualify, the work must be original, and exhibit a degree of labour, skill or judgement. Copyright arises automatically, i.e. without the need for registration or formality, and is typically owned by the creator of the work. However, ownership may vest in an employer or commissioner in certain circumstances. Creations in which copyright may arise are generally divided into primary and secondary works, as follows:

§ Primary works: literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works.

§ Secondary works: Sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical works.

The copyright owner has exclusive rights to translate the work, copy the work, publicly perform, transmit, broadcast or adapt the work, while third parties can only do so with the owner’s permission.  ‘Fair use’ exceptions  to copyright infringement exist, meaning that acts performed exclusively for the purposes of private research, educational use, news reporting and review, and making readable copies for people with disabilities will typically not be considered an infringement.

Originality is key..

To qualify for copyright, the work must be original, and exhibit a degree of labour, skill or judgement.

The application process…

Copyright automatically arises when you create one of the above works. There is no register of copyright in the UK, and therefore no formal registration process. However, as a matter of good practice, a copyright notice should be attached to creative works to identify it as your own, e.g. e.g. ‘©2018 Definition IP Limited’. This reminds others that the work is subject to copyright, it acts as a deterrent against plagiarism and it makes you known as the owner of copyright should someone wish to contact you.

How long does it last?

For most categories of works in the UK and Ireland, copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.  In the event of multiple creators, this is based on the life of the last surviving creator plus 70 years.