​Copyright and IP Overview

​Copyright in the UK is defined by the 'Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988'.  As stated in this act copyright covers the following type of works:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works.
  • Sound recordings, films or broadcasts.
  • The typographical arrangement of published editions.

​To break down these headings further, you may find the following fact sheet useful.  UK Copyright Law fact sheet​ from the UK Copyright Service. The link is supplied under the terms on the webpage.

Putting a copyright notice similar to   'Copyright © 2019 (name or business) - All Rights Reserved' on all  your work doesn't give you legal protection but it does help deter intellectual property theft.  Copyright can be registered with companies like the UK Copyright Service but there is no legal requirement to do so.

​Copyright Infringement

​​​​The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to copy, ​rent, lend, perform, adapt or make public his or her work.  However, it's good to know how to avoid copyright infringement.  Even without deliberate intent, it's quite easy to break the law inadvertently.  As such, here are a few guidelines to avoid copyright infringement as supplied by legislation.gov.uk.

  • ​Infringement of copyright by copying.  
  • ​Infringement by issue of copies to the public.  
  • ​Infringement by rental or lending of work to the public.
  • ​Infringement by performance, showing or playing of work in public.
  • ​Infringement by communication to the public.
  • ​Infringement by making adaptation or act done in relation to adaptation.

​More detailed​​​ information on the above headings can be found at legislation.gov.uk.​ and is part published here under the terms of the open government license.

UK Copyright Law

​UK copyright law is covered comprehensively from the government's intellectual property office.  If you already have published products or are considering developing them, the following areas of UK copyright law should be of interest.  There are numerous sub-topic links beside these headings which will give you very comprehensive and detailed information on the government's copyright web page.

  • ​Introduction to copyright. 
  • ​Managing copyright.  
  • ​ Exceptions to copyright. 
  • ​Copyright notices.
  • ​Objecting, challenging and resolving copyright disputes.
  • ​Using copyright abroad.
  • ​Law and practice.

​You can also find documents relating to the latest copyright changes on the governments 'Copyright Latest Documents' page.  The above information is part published here under the open government license.

Intellectual ​Property and Your Work

​​What intellectual property is

Having the right type of intellectual property protection helps you to stop people stealing or copying:

  • the names of your products or brands
  • your inventions
  • the design or look of your products
  • things you write, make or produce

Copyright, patents, designs and trade marks are all types of intellectual property protection.  You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.

What counts as intellectual property

Intellectual property is something unique that you physically create. An idea alone is not intellectual property. For example, an idea for a book doesn’t count, but the words you’ve written do.

Owning intellectual property

You own intellectual property if you:

  • created it (and it meets the requirements for copyright, a patent or design)
  • bought intellectual property rights from the creator or a previous owner
  • have a brand that could be a trade mark, eg a well-known product name

Intellectual property can:

  • have more than one owner
  • belong to people or businesses
  • be sold or transferred

Intellectual property if you’re self-employed

If you’re self-employed, you usually own the intellectual property even if your work was commissioned by someone else - unless your contract with them gives them the rights.  You usually won’t own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.

The information about 'Intellectual Property and Your Work' has been published here under the terms of the open government license.