How Copyright protects your work

What is a Copyright? 

Copyright is one of four main areas within Intellectual Property Laws; Copyright, Trademarks, Patents and Designs. With each being important as one another, is it vital to understand the difference between them, and which require action if your role is within Intellectual Property.

Copyright is a legal right that provides the owner with control over their work and how it is used. It is mainly governed under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988, with the first Copyright act dating back to the 18th century. It provides the owner with a set of ‘exclusive’ rights, enabling them to exclude another individual, or multiple individuals, from using their work without receiving permission first. The owners can use, sell, licence, share or rent it to a third party, as well as prevent others from doing the same. It is the legal right that protects an individual’s work, once the idea has been physically expressed.  They are also interacted with every time someone watches an online clip, reads a blog or listens to music, with the owner profiting each time.

How to Create a Copyright? 

By creating an official public record that demonstrates the original owner’s rights, the owner can sue for Copyright infringement, and related damages and financial losses, if someone were to profit from their work. It is different to other forms of Intellectual Property, as discussed above, as it does not need to be registered to be effective, it is an automatic right. This means that there are no forms or fees to have something Copyrighted – Once the work is complete, the Copyright exists.

Creators can mark their Copyright with an ‘ © ‘ symbol, followed by their name and the date of their published work, however, this is not essential for every existing Copyright. Individuals are able to formally Copyright something through an online service, a bank, or a solicitor. It is essential to recognise that Copyright does not protect the idea, rather the expression of an idea, and, according the UK law, is only considered original if the creator uses skill, labour, judgment and effort to create it.

What does Copyright protection prevent? 

  • Copying Work
  • Distributing copies, whether for a price or for free.
  • Renting or lending copies
  • Performing, showing or playing your work in public (most often recognised with music)
  • Creating an adaptation
  • Placing the work on the internet

Using a Copyrighted work is Copyright infringement when the ‘work as a whole or any substantial part of it’ has been COPIED.

Types of Copyright: 

Types of Copyright exist as, but are not limited to – 

  • Books / Novels
  • Technical Reports / Manuals
  • Paintings / Sculptures 
  • Photographs
  • Music / Songs
  • Dramatic Works
  • Films / Television / Radio Broadcasting
  • Engineering / Technical Plans
  • Promotional Literature 
  • Advertising
  • Computer Software / Databases

Duration of a Copyright:

The duration of a Copyright’s existence can depend on the type of work, and whether it is published or unpublished. In the UK, Copyright protection can last up to 70 years subsequent to a creator’s death, where, following their death, the work is placed in the public domain, 

  • Written, Dramatics and Artistic Copyrights can last 70 years after the creator’s death.
  • Sound and Music recording Copyrights can last 70 years from date of its first publication.
  • Film Copyrights can last 70 years after the death of director, screenplay author and composer.
  • Broadcast Copyrights can last 50 years from the date of first broadcast.
  • Copyrights of the layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works can last 25 years from date of publication.

As each country has their own Copyright laws and practices in place, the rules may vary as to where Copyrights exist, and where they do not. However, most countries protect their own citizen’s creations.

If you require any legal advice concerning Copyright, or have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Lawdit Team today.

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