How Copyright protects your work

Copyright is what protects your work and prevents others from using it without your permission.

It is automatically applied to your work, so you don’t have to pay a fee or apply for a license.  Copyright is automatically applied when you create:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration work and photography
  • Original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases
  • Sound and music recordings
  • Film and television recordings
  • Broadcast
  • The layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works

You can put the copyright symbol on your work, alongside your name and the year, e.g. ©Cindy Mobey 2021. Even if you decide you don’t want to do this, or if you forget, it doesn’t affect the level of protection you have.

How long does copyright last?

It starts as soon as you’ve created your work and expiry date is anywhere between 50-70 years after creation, in some cases 50-70 years after the death of the creator. This depends on what you’re creating, be it music, literary, broadcast etc.

What happen if I breach copyright?

The one thing I always talk about to my clients is copyright. If you are writing a blog, or creating content online, for social media for example, you should NOT just use any image you see on Google. Most images on the internet are protected by copyright and you could face legal action and substantial fines if you are found out. I always say to use the free image sites, such as unsplash, pixabay or pexels. These images, in the majority of cases, come with a commercial license, so it’s OK for you to use them for commercial purposes – such as your blog or social media pages.

Breaching copyright is also very damaging to your reputation. If you’re a small business, we all know how important it is to be trustworthy and ethical. Being found in breach of copyright could seriously undermine the trust that customers put in your business. They may wonder if you’re honest in other aspects of your business. So, it’s really not worth the risk.

Copyright Policy

If you have a website, it’s a good idea to have a copyright policy. This policy just basically tells people that your work is your own and that they can’t copy it etc.

This will then protect you from anyone:

  • Copying your work
  • Putting your work on the internet
  • Performing or playing your work in public
  • Renting or lending copies of your work, (books for example)
  • Adapting your work for their own use
  • Distributing your work, or copies of your work, regardless of whether they distribute it for sale or free

It can be very tempting to just copy something or copy and paste that cute image you see, but it’s really just not worth it.

If you’d like to find out more about international copyright log into the IPO Information Centre – information@ipo.gov.uk

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