What is copyright?
Copyright is the legal right automatically given to a creator of an original work to use and reproduce that work exclusively. Copyright protects an owner’s work from duplication or use without their permission. In the UK, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 covers copyright law, which replaced the Copyright Act of 1956.
The copyright owner may not always be clear cut. For example, when a business’ employees create work, the copyright owner is (usually) the business and not the employee. Meanwhile, if the company instructs a third party to create work on their behalf (e.g. a design), the third party may own the copyright unless they transfer the rights.
What’s the difference between copyright and trade marks?
Trade marks protect brand names, logos and slogans. A trade mark is a registered right, meaning that you need to go through an application process to get one. Conversely, copyright protects different works such as extended text, graphic works, illustrations, photographs, software code, music, sculptures and film. Copyright, at least in the UK and EU, isn’t a registered right and instead, it exists as soon as an original work is created.
Both trade marks and copyright are forms of intellectual property.
How long does copyright last?
Subject to some exceptions, copyright typically lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. This is much longer than some other IP rights, such as designs and patents, and it means that there is a significant amount of time to monetise your copyright work with, for example, a licence agreement.
What should I do if someone infringes my copyright?
If you believe another individual or company is infringing your copyright, you should collect evidence, with screenshots and website links best. Next, you should speak to an experienced copyright solicitor. If that’s us, we will assess the details of the case and advise on the best course of action. The aim always should be to resolve the infringement in the quickest and most cost-effective manner. Most of the time, a resolution is found before court proceedings are necessary.