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UK Copyright Laws FAQ's

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Home  How it works Who's joining?  Benefits  Testimonials  Membership Options  Copyright FAQ's
Country Specific Copyright FAQ's Some commonly asked questions about US Copyright Laws and registration.  Some commonly asked questions about Canadian Copyright Laws and registration.  Some commonly asked questions about UK Copyright Laws and registration.  Some commonly asked questions about International Copyright Laws and registration.
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Many people contact WorldWideOCR to ask when, where and why they should register their copyrights. Each nation has their own interpretation of International Copyright Law, and therefore, applies different statutes and protocol.

If you intend to register your copyrights with a national copyright office outside of the UK, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the laws of the nation in which you register by contacting that office directly. Please review this page at the World Intellectual Property Organization's Directory of Intellectual Property Offices for more information specific to your country.

For your general reference, following is a collection of excerpts and links to the U.K. Copyright Site and the Intellectual Property Portal gathered on Sept. 16, 2005:

  »How is a UK copyright different from a UK patent or a UK trademark?
  »Who owns a UK copyright?
  »How do I use UK copyright material?
  »Do I have to register with the UK Copyright Office to be protected?
  »How can I prove originality in my UK copyright?
  »What is the duration of a UK copyright?
  »Will my copyrights be protected outside the UK?
  »When is my UK copyright officially date-stamped?
  »Why should I protect my UK copyrights?
  »What types of damages will I become eligible for if my UK copyright is infringed?
  »Are functional or industrial articles protected by UK copyright law?
  »What copyright protection applies in the UK’s dependent territories?
  »Can UK copyrights be transferred to someone else?

»How is a UK copyright different from a UK patent or a UK trademark?
The type of works that copyright protects are:

1. original literary works, e.g. novels, instruction manuals, computer programs, lyrics for songs, articles in newspapers, some types of databases, but not names or titles (see Trade Marks pages for for information about registered and unregistered trade marks);

2. original dramatic works, including works of dance or mime;

3. original musical works;

4. original artistic works, e.g. paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, works of architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps, logos;

5. published editions of works, i.e. the typographical arrangement of a publication;

6. sound recordings, which may be recordings on any medium, e.g. tape or compact disc, and may be recordings of other copyright works, e.g. musical or literary;

7. films, including videos; and

8. broadcasts.

So the above works are protected by copyright, regardless of the medium in which they exist and this includes the internet. You should also note that copyright does not protect ideas. It protects the way the idea is expressed in a piece of work, but it does not protect the idea itself.
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»Who owns a UK copyright?
The general rule is that the author is the first owner of copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. In the case of films, the principal director and the film producer are joint authors and first owners of copyright. The main exception is where a work or film is made in the course of employment, in which case the employer owns the copyright. The copyright in sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions generally belongs to the record producer, broadcaster or publisher.
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»How do I use UK copyright material?
Copyright is a type of intellectual property and, like physical property, cannot generally be used without the owner`s permission. Of course, the copyright owner may decide not to give permission for use of his or her work. For more information please visit the UK Copyright site.
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»Do I have to register with the UK Copyright Office to be protected?
No. Copyright protection in the UK is automatic and there is no registration system - so there are no forms to fill in and no fees to pay.
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»How can I prove originality in my UK copyright?
Ultimately this is a matter for the courts to decide. However, it may help copyright owners to deposit a copy of their work with a bank or solicitor or send a copy of their work to themselves by special delivery (which gives a clear date stamp on the envelope), leaving the envelope unopened on its return; this could establish that the work existed at this time. (Further details of special delivery should be available at Post Offices in the UK).
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»What is the duration of a UK copyright?
Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (including a photograph) lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. The duration of copyright in a film is 70 years after the death of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created for the film. Sound recordings are generally protected for 50 years from the year of publication. Broadcasts are protected for 50 years and published editions are protected for 25 years.

For copyright works created outside the UK or another country of the European Economic Area, the term of protection may be shorter. There may also be differences for works created before 1 January 1996.
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»Will my copyrights be protected outside the UK?
Usually, but not invariably. The UK is a member of several international conventions in this field, notably the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC). Copyright material created by UK nationals or residents is protected in each member country of the conventions by the national law of that country. Most countries belong to at least one of the conventions, including all the Western European countries, the USA and Russia. A full list of the conventions and their member countries may be obtained from the Copyright Directorate. Protection overseas can also arise from obligations in the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which forms part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement.
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»When is my UK copyright officially date-stamped?
In order to provide evidence of when you first created your UK copyrights you are advised to use a third-party of some sort to substantiate your possesssion of your material. This should be completed before you begin making your work public.
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»Why should I protect my UK copyrights?
Copyright gives the creators of a wide range of material, such as literature, art, music, sound recordings, films and broadcasts, economic rights enabling them to control use of their material in a number of ways, such as by making copies, issuing copies to the public, performing in public, broadcasting and use on-line. Copyright also gives moral rights to be identified as the creator of certain kinds of material, and to object to distortion or mutilation of it.

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 and/or significant labour and/or investment, and without protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator.
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»What types of damages will I become eligible for if my UK copyright is infringed?
Although you are not obliged to do so it will usually be sensible, and save time and money, to try to resolve the matter with the party you think has infringed your copyright. If you cannot do this, then you may need to go to court. Before doing so, you should consider obtaining legal advice. Courts may grant a range of remedies, such as injunctions (to stop the other person making use of the material), damages for infringement, or orders to deliver up infringing goods. If infringing copies are being imported from outside the European Economic Area, you may ask HM Customs and Excise to stop them.

Where a copyright owner brings a case of copyright infringement before the courts, a full range of civil remedies are available, such as:

injunctions served against the infringer or alleged infringer (to stop that person making further infringing use of the material);

damages for infringement awarded to the copyright owner;

orders to deliver up infringing goods to the copyright owner.

Deliberate, intentional or wilful infringement of copyright on a commercial scale may give rise to additional remedies.
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»Are functional or industrial articles protected by UK copyright law?
Copyright may protect the drawing from which an article is made, but it cannot prevent the manufacture of purely industrial articles. For information on protection of industrial articles see design right.

However, articles that are replicated by an industrial process, but which are of an aesthetically pleasing appearance may be protected by copyright where the article itself is an artistic work. This includes sculptures as well as works of artistic craftsmanship. Where it is possible to obtain a registered design for such articles, the copyright term will be reduced to match the term of protection for registered designs.
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»What copyright protection applies in the UK’s dependent territories?
Current UK law, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the CDPA), only applies in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It has not been extended to any UK dependent territories.

However, earlier UK copyright law was extended to the dependent territories, but the version of the law that applies or applied there is not always the same. Some UK dependent territories have, or are actively considering, introducing their own copyright laws and you should refer to the administrations in the territories for the latest position.
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»Can UK copyrights be transferred to someone else?
Yes. Copyright is a form of intellectual property and, like physical property, can be bought and sold, inherited or otherwise transferred.

A transfer of ownership may cover all or only some of the rights to which a copyright owner is entitled. But, unless a copyright owner agrees a license for him or herself when copyright is transferred, this would mean that the they would no longer be able to use the copyright work.

First or subsequent copyright owners can choose to license others to use their works whilst retaining ownership themselves.

A contractual agreement transferring ownership of copyright from one person to another is known as an assignment and is not effective unless in writing signed by or on behalf of the transferor.
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Topic specific Copyright and other Author's Rights Information
Sound Recordings  Literary Works  Visual Arts  Performing Arts  Serials & Periodicals  Copyright Infringement 
Performance Rights  Mechanical Rights  Synchronization Rights  Grand Rights  Digital Rights  Register Inventions 
Online Copyrights Registration using SEAL™ files... 
Important International Copyright Links:
Berne Convention  Universal Copyright Convention  Rome Convention  WIPO

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