How to copyright your work
Published 01.11.08 at 09:30
Copyright gives those who invest the skill and effort to create original work the right to prevent others from copying them.
There is no copyright in ideas or concepts, but rather in the expression of these ideas. For example, a general theme for a TV programme has no copyright, but once it is made or written down, the recording of the TV show itself, the images of fictional characters, the script and the music will all benefit from protection by copyright.
It is important that what is created is put into material form. For example, if someone creates a new song but doesn't write it down or record a performance of it, they have no copyright protection. 'Material form' does not have to be writing on paper, but can include saving it onto a disk or hard drive and recording it on a tape or CD.
Practical steps: Unlike in the US, there is no formal copyright registration scheme in the UK. Your work is protected automatically by copyright once you create it.
Nonetheless it is advisable to use a copyright notice whenever your work is reproduced and/or displayed (where practical). You should also try to keep records to show when you created the work. Copyright notices typically read as follows:
"Copyright © [name of artist] [date]. All rights reserved"
If you are creating an electronic work (for example, internet art) and/or your work consists of a collection of 'found' or other images, your work may also benefit from copyright as a compilation or benefit from database right protection.
Duration: Copyright protection lasts for up to 70 years from the date of the death of the creator, or in the case of sound recordings, films, broadcasts and cable programmes, for 50 years running from the end of the year in which the work was created.
Content provided by Tarlo Lyons. Photo credit: Fmc.nikon.d40
Please note that this article discusses the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. It provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.