Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection. Legal advice is often required from a specialist copyright lawyer because, unlike other forms of intellectual property such as designs, patents and trade marks, there is no examination process for deciding whether to ‘allow’ copyright in a work in the United Kingdom. The main requirement is that a work is original, and the threshold for ‘originality’ is set quite low. If you have expended skill and labour in creating a work, and it is one of the types of ‘work’ that is covered by copyright, then it is most likely protected by copyright.

Below is a brief introduction to UK copyright law and some answers to frequently asked questions a copyright lawyer receives.

Copyright is an intellectual property right, meaning it can be owned in the same way as tangible property. Copyright automatically subsists in an original work upon its creation. Examples of copyright works include literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, as well as sound recordings, films and broadcasts. Copyright infringement is possible if the content of the copyright work is used without permission.

Copyright cannot be registered in the UK (or most other countries), although we recommend keeping records enabling the date of creation of a work to be easily determined. It is important to note that ownership of copyright is not transferred by virtue of commissioning work, and this should be borne in mind when engaging designers and other freelancers. For more information, see Consultancy Agreements.

No. Copyright does not protect ideas, only their expression. This means, for example, if you use innovative ideas when writing a book or developing a piece of software, copyright will not prevent others from using those ideas and expressing them in a different way. On the other hand, it may be possible to protect your idea by means of Patents.

Possibly – UK copyright and unregistered design right have some overlap in protection. If your work is artistic, copyright protection is provided. For example, copyright and design right protection may both apply to sculptures, or other works of artistic craftsmanship. The qualifying requirements must be met in order for the relevant right to subsist.

Yes. UK copyright will protect your work throughout your lifetime, and for 70 years following your death. The same applies to any artistic works you have created. If someone copies your work without permission before this, then that could constitute copyright infringement. There are likely to be other forms of intellectual property, in addition to copyright, available to protect your work. For more information, see Designs and Trademarks. Authors also have “moral rights” protecting their right of attribution and the integrity of their work.


How can we help you with Copyright?

Our copyright lawyer services

Our copyright lawyers will help:

  • Identify works in which copyright exists
  • Advise on copyright ownership and ensure you own the copyright in any artwork, logos or software designed for your business – note payment does not equal ownership
  • Sell or transfer your copyright
  • Provide legal clearance advice on the use of copyright protected works owned by others
  • You generate maximum revenue from your copyright protected works
  • Take appropriate action against acts of copyright infringement
  • Defend any claim of copyright infringement made against you

To speak to one of our specialist copyright lawyers today, call us on 0131 478 4724 or complete an Online Enquiry to request a call back.

Arrange a meeting

If you are looking for expert advice from a specialist copyright lawyer regarding any area of IP law, get in touch with our expert solicitors today. Call us on 0131 478 4724, or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will get back to you.

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