Copyright law can be a very complicated area – many lawyers make a living from the intricacies of copyright law. Essentially copyright boils down to a simple fact – don’t use others’ work and pass it off as your own.

The current act is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The law gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, sound recordings, broadcasts, films and printed versions of published editions, rights to control the ways in which their material may be used. The Act covers items such as song lyrics, computer programs, music, photographs, maps, films, tv and radio broadcasts

Copyright is an automatic right and arises whenever an individual or company creates a work. To qualify, a work should be regarded as original, and exhibit a degree of labour, skill or judgement. If you create a piece of music or take a photograph, you automatically own the copyright – you do not need to do anything.

However if copyright is important to you, you might want to prove when your material was created, for instance sending a recorded delivery copy to yourself. This way, you can prove in court when you created a piece of work. Remember, if a work is produced as part of employment then the first owner will normally be the company that is the employer of the individual who created the work.

This is a short overview of copyright. More details can be found at

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