What is copyright?
Copyright is an Intellectual Property Right (IPR). Other IPRs include Patents and Trademarks. Rights closely related to Copyright include Moral Rights, Database Right and Publication Right.
Copyright law gives the owner of a copyright various rights to control the way in which their work is used. These rights may extend beyond copying to include distribution, performance and other acts. Copyright law also makes some provision for the users of copyright work.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) is the primary piece of IPR legislation in the UK. It is amended and supplemented by various other pieces of legislation, particularly Statutory Instruments (SIs), some of which implement EU directives within the UK.
In the UK, copyright protection exists automatically; there is no need to register a work to record its ownership.
Why is copyright important?
Copyright is a legal right. Infringement in the UK can lead to both civil and criminal penalties (i.e. fines and custodial sentences). The only way to avoid such infringements is to act in accordance with the law, or in accordance with a private agreement with the copyright holder.
In addition, certain licences also exist which grant the use (according to specific conditions) of certain copyright material. The University subscribes to several copyright licences. Compliance with copyright law, individual agreements and licence terms and conditions is essential if infringement is to be avoided. Licensors may revoke their licences if faced with evidence of infringement.
What types of work are protected by copyright?
A work must be recorded in some form to be subject to copyright. Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, and typographical arrangements are all subject to copyright protection. Compilations and databases are subject to copyright and also to the entirely separate Database Right. Works are protected whether they exist in print or electronic format.
Who owns copyright?
The initial owner of copyright is usually the person who creates the original work (generally known as the ‘author’). If a work is created in the course of employment, the copyright is owned by the employer unless there is an agreement to the contrary. For works created by a member of staff of the University, the Terms & Conditions of that person’s Contract of Employment need to be checked to ascertain ownership. As with other forms of property, copyrights can be traded, so the current owner of copyright may not be the original author or employer. Frequently, more than one copyright may exist in a work.
What rights does a copyright owner have?
A copyright owner has the exclusive right to control copying, performance, exhibition, adaptation or translation of their work. They also have an excusive right to make the work available to the public, including renting or lending it.
How long does copyright protection last?
Generally, for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, and films, copyright lasts for 70 years from the end of the year in which the author died. The rules regarding photographs are quite complicated.
For sound recordings and broadcasts copyright protection generally lasts for 50 years from the end of the year in which the recording or broadcast was made.
For typographical arrangements, copyright protection lasts for 25 years from the end of the year of publication.
What is fair dealing?
The CDPA sets out some specific circumstances in which copyright works may be reproduced without infringement, providing the copying can be justified as ‘fair dealing’.
Exactly how much copying might constitute ‘fair dealing’ in either of these circumstances is not defined in the Act, but must be considered on a case by case basis.
Other fair dealing provisions cover quotation of works for the purposes of criticism and review, and news reporting.
What are moral rights?
These are rights which authors possess independently of copyright. There are three – the right to not have their work treated in a derogatory way, the right not to have works written by others attributed to them, and the right to be identified as the author of their own work. The last of these does not apply in every case. To avoid infringing an author’s moral rights it is wise to make full and proper acknowledgement whenever you use any 3rd party material.
What is database right?
A database is a collection of works or data organised in a systematic way. Both electronic and paper-based collections may be databases. Databases are only subject to copyright if they are the result of personal intellectual activity, but any database is subject to database right, which is quite separate. A database is protected even if it consists entirely of out of copyright material.
Database right lasts for 15 years from the end of the year in which the database was completed. In practice, this means that computer databases that are regularly revised are always protected by database right.
The owner of a database has the right to control the extraction or reuse of a substantial part of the database’s contents.