Intellectual property & copyright

Copyright is a form of intellectual property right which protects a variety of different works, including music, written words (such as lyrics or novels), and pictures. It also applies to works such as films and musical performances.

The Scope of Copyright

This type of intellectual property right is an automatic right. This means that it is not necessary for you to apply for it in order to be protected by it. If work is copyrighted, another should only use that work with the owner’s permission.

This is true even when attempting to reproduce the copyrighted work in a different medium. For example, if a novel is copyrighted, you cannot make it into a play without the owner’s permission.

It is important to realise however, that the scope of copyright does not extend to protecting ideas which will be used for a work. It is only once the work is fully finished that it gains automatic copyright protection.

However, once the work is finished, any form of copying, whether it is direct or indirect, transferred from one medium to another, or is the whole of the work which has been copied or a substantial part of it, is prohibited.

Copyright can be used in conjunction with a number of other intellectual property right protections. For example, an album can have a number of copyrights attributable to it, for each song, artwork, design etc. It may also have other protection such as trademark for particular logos.

If you are interested in finding out further, detailed information, then it will be worth reading the copyrights section of the statute, which can be found here – http://www.ipo.gov.uk/cdpact1988.pdf.

Benefits of Copyright Work

Apart from protecting your finished work automatically, copyright also has a number of other benefits. Although it acts as a deterrent for others not to use your work without your permission, if they in fact do, it offers you legal redress so that you are able to prevent them from exploiting your work. You will also be able to claim damages for this exploitation.

As an owner, once you fully understand your rights provided by copyright, you will see that you copyright affords you a number of different paths you can take regarding your piece of work. For example, it is possible to sell your copyright, but still keep moral rights to the piece of work. Alternatively, you may wish to remain owner of the work, but are happy to licence out the copyright for others to use it for a specific purpose.

Copyright therefore not only protects your work from being used without your permission, it also provides you with a number of economic benefits that can result from this. As has been mentioned, this is particularly relevant to when someone exploits your work, as this is an opportunity for you to economically benefit from this exploitation.

Exceptions to Copyrighted Work

Some work, although copyrighted, is capable of being copied without the owner’s permission in certain situations. Situations include helping people who are visually impaired, educational teaching, the review/criticism of current events and private study (non-commercial research). Please note, this list is not exhaustive, and so it is extremely important that if you are considering using a work which is protected by copyright, that you find out exactly what rights and obligations you have regarding that individual piece of work.

It is worth knowing that if you draw, take a picture of, or film any building or works of art which are made available to the public/located in public places, this is not an infringement of copyright.

A full list of situations which are classed as exceptions to copyright law can be found in the link used earlier in this article.