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About copyright

Copyright can protect:

  • literary works, including novels, instruction manuals, computer programs, song lyrics, newspaper articles and some types of database
  • dramatic works, including dance or mime
  • musical works
  • artistic works, including paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps and logos
  • layouts or typographical arrangements used to publish a work, for a book for instance
  • recordings of a work, including sound and film
  • broadcasts of a work

You should only copy or use a work protected by copyright with the copyright owner's permission.

Copyright applies to any medium. This means that you must not reproduce copyright protected work in another medium without permission. This includes, publishing photographs on the internet, making a sound recording of a book, a painting of a photograph and so on.

Copyright does not protect ideas for a work.  It is only when the work itself is fixed, for example in writing, that copyright automatically protects it. This means that you do not have to apply for copyright.

A copyright protected work can have more than one copyright, or another intellectual property (IP) right, connected to it.  For example, an album of music can have separate copyrights for individual songs, sound recordings, artwork, and so on.  Whilst copyright can protect the artwork of your logo, you could also register the logo as a trade mark.

The law of copyright and its related rights in the UK can be found in the the copyright sections of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) PDF document(1.53Mb)









Fast Facts

  • Sections 1-8 of the Act cover descriptions of works
  • Reproducing a work in any form - see s17(2) of the Act

Jargon buster

  • literary works might be referred to as written works
  • dramatic works could be called theatrical works