Automatically protects all recorded material. This
includes the written word on paper, tape, electronic form, artistic
works, dramatic works, music, broadcasts and typographical
arrangements, including computer software.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property (IP) which provides
the proprietor of an original creative work exclusive rights to
prevent others from reproducing the work; infringement of these
rights entitles the copyright owner to damages. Copyright is
an automatic right, it does not have to be registered and arises as
soon as a work is created in any material form, such as writing, a
sound recording or in electronic form. This effectively means
copyright has to be an expression of any idea, as there can be no
copyright in the idea itself.
There are a wide variety of works protected by copyright and
- Literary works: which consist of materials expressly written,
spoken or sung such as books, poems, letters, journal articles or
the lyrics of a song. Also included are tables, compilations,
computer programs, preparatory designs for computer programs and
- Dramatic works: includes a work or dance or mime.
- Musical works: include music, exclusive or any action or words
performs with it.
- Artistic works: includes graphic works (paintings, drawings,
diagrams, maps, charts, plans, engravings, etchings or similar),
photographs, sculptures, collages, works of architecture and works
of artistic craftsmanship.
- Sound recordings
- Typographical arrangements of published editions (e.g. format
of a newspaper)
Requirements for Copyright Protection
The conditions necessary for a work to attract copyright are
that it has to be original, meaning not copied from anywhere else,
and also that it is produced via independent creative effort.
Literary, musical, artistic and dramatic works will not be classed
as original if there has not been sufficient skill, judgement or
labour involved in their creation. However, this is a low
threshold and sometimes substantial investment of resources without
intellectual creativity can be considered sufficient skill and
labour to attract copyright. Sound recordings, films,
published editions and broadcasts do nt have to be original to
attract copyright but they will not be new copyright works if they
have been copied from existing sources.
The author of a work protected by copyright means the person who
created the work. In the case of a sound recording that
person is the producer; for a film it is the produce and principle
director; for a broadcast it is the person making it; and for a
typographical arrangement it is the editor.
A work can have multiple authors as long as the contribution of
each author is not distinct from that of the other authors.
Authorship and Ownership of Copyright
The author of a work is considered to be the first owner of any
copyright by the law, unless the work was created by an employee
during and under the normal conditions of his or her
employment. If this is the case, then the employer will be
the first owner of any copyright in the work.
In the case of Trust employees, copyright ownership is set out
in the Trusts IP policy. In the case of the commissioned
work, ownership should be decided before the commencement of
work. The person paying for the work must obtain written
assignment of the work to be the ultimate owner of any copyright
A copyright owner is automatically afforded a bundle of
exclusive rights and is able to authorise, licence or assign others
to do the following acts in connection to the work:
- Copy the work
- Issue copies of the work to the public
- Rent or lend the work to the public
- Perform, play or show the work in public
- Communicate the work to the public
- Make an adaptation to the work, or do any of the above in
relation to the adaptation
The communication right is in specific reference to distributing
the work via electronic means e.g. by e-mail, posting the work on a
website or a virtual learning classroom. If any of the
exclusive rights are committed without prior consent from the
copyright owner, then the copyright is classed as infringed and the
owner of that copyright is entitled to seek compensation or damages
via remedies of civil law.
Exceptions to Copyright
Certain exceptions to copyright law, also known as fair-dealing
or fair-use provisions, do exist and allow copying such as
downloading, photocopying and scanning in certain circumstances
without infringement. These circumstances include using a
copy of the work for research, private study, criticism or
review. In these cases, sufficient acknowledgement of the
work used should be provided unless the work is a film, sound
recording or broadcast, whereby providing sufficient
acknowledgement can sometimes be impossible for reasons of
Moral Rights Associated with Copyright
#the author of a literary, dramatic, musical work or artistic
work and the director of a film retains the following rights,
regardless of who the copyright ownership has passed or transferred
- The right to be identified as the author or director
- The right to object to derogatory treatment of the work.
- The right not to have a work falsely attributed to them
- The right to privacy of certain commissioned photographs and
The right to be identified as the author is the most common
moral right used, and this right must be expressly asserted by the
author in order for it to be recognised and established.
Most of the moral rights have a duration the same length as
copyright apart from the false attribution right, which lasts for
20 years commencing the year of the authors death.
It is worth noting that moral rights do not apply where
copyright was originally owned by an employer, unless there is an
agreement to the contrary. Also, a moral right cannot be
licensed or assigned like copyright, but it can be waived if
expressed in writing by the author.
Duration of Copyright
Copyright subsisting in a literary, dramatic, musical, artistic
work, or a film expires 70 years from the end of the calendar year
in which the author dies. In the case of joint ownership,
this duration is calculated from the death of the last surviving
author. In the case of a film, this duration is calculated
from the last death of the following contributors: the principle
director, author of screenplay, author of dialogue or composer of
music. The duration of the copyright in a sound recording or
broadcast is 50 years from the end of the calendar year either was
made, and the duration of copyright in a typographical arrangement
is 25 years from the end of the year in which it was first
Copyright in Software and Databases
The source and object code of a computer program is protected by
copyright, this also includes preparatory design material for a
computer program. Databases can also be protected both
through copyright as a literary work and through a unique database
right. The database right arises for the selection or
arrangement of a collection of independent works, data or other
material. Database right has a duration lasting 15 years.
Governance of Copyright
In the UK, copyright is governed by the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988 (CDPA), which is amended from time to time in
order to achieve conformity with international treaties and
conventions, along with EU legislation.
Factors to Consider
- Copyright entails a bundle of exclusive rights which can each
be individually licensed or assigned to another party e.g. a
publisher. These rights do not all have to be transferred at
the same time.
- If authors wish to incorporate publicly available computer
programming code into their work, permission will be required from
other copyright owners e.g. freeware.
- If a work is one of multiple joint authorship, each author will
own the copyright of their contribution. If the contributions
are indistinguishable from one another, all owners should sign
documents relating to any copyright transfer.
- Buying a book, CD, journal issue or article does not
necessarily give you the right to make further copies, play or show
them in public. You may need further permission from the
copyright owner to do this.
- Marking work with the internal @ symbol, followed by the name
of the copyright owner and year of publication is not essential in
the UK. However, doing this may assist if infringement
proceedings were ever to occur.