Copyright: Key Points to Remember

What is copyright?

  • Copyright is mainly based on the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, subsequent revisions including the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003, Copyright Rights in Performances Regulations 2014, previous Copyright Acts (1911 and 1956), Directives, Treaties, Conventions and Case Law.
  •  Copyright is an exclusive economic right granted to the creator of original work to permit or prevent other people from copying it.
  •  Copyright does not protect an idea, only the material expression of the idea.
  •  Works are protected regardless of artistic merit, although they need to be original and/or show skill and judgement.

 What does copyright protect?

  • Copyright only protects certain things specified by the Copyright Act – if it does not fall within one of the eight categories – it will not be protected
  •  These categories are: Literary works, Dramatic Works, Musical Works, Artistic Works, Broadcasts, Sound Recordings, Films and Typographic Works

How are works protected?

  • There is no need to register copyright in the UK: it exists automatically as soon as a work in one of the above categories is fixed
  •  There is no need to use a copyright symbol in the UK, if a work is protected by copyright, it will be protected anyway
  • For most works, copyright protection in the UK lasts 70 years from the end of the year in which the artist who created the work dies. When the artist dies, copyright normally passed to their estate unless they specify otherwise.
  •  As a general rule, the first owner of copyright in a Work(s), the “Copyright Holder” will be the artist who produced the work unless it was made by an employee in the course of his or her employment.
  •  A Copyright Holder is able to transfer the legal ownership of that copyright to a third party (also called an “assignment”) or grant permission to use it under licence.

What are “Moral Rights”?

  • Moral Rights relate to the creator’s honour or reputation. They give the creator:- The right to be named as the creator of the work (paternity right)The right to object to someone wrongly named the creator of his/her work (false attribution right)The right to object to derogatory treatment of the work (derogatory treatment right)
  •  Moral rights can’t be assigned to anyone else (unlike copyright), but they can be waived.

 What are Creative Commons Licences?

Creative Commons Licences have been developed by Creative Commons, a non for profit charity In order to facilitate sharing of creative works, Creative Commons have developed several licences to enable rights holders, and those acting with the specific authorisation of rights holders to use, share and reuse their work.

Where can you find out more?

General Information

Intellectual Property Office

CILIP Copyright Resources for Librarians

Creative Commons

Copyright User

Korn, N and McKenna, G 2015. A Practical Guide to Copyright. Collections Trust.
Padfield, T. 2015.

Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers (4th Edition), Tim Padfield. Facet Publishing

Cracking Ideas

BBC Copyright Aware

UK Creative Content: Get it Right From a Legal Site

Strategic Content Alliance IPR and Licensing Toolkit

Strategic Content Alliance IPR and Licensing Learning Object

OER IPR Support

Disclaimer: None of the information contained within this document should be construed as legal advice. Should specific legal advice be required, please consult the appropriate legal advisor.

© Naomi Korn, 2016. Some Rights Reserved. The information here is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA)

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