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Copyright is protection for literary or artistic authorship. Copyright does not protect ideas for works. It is only when the work has been captured (fixed) in hard copy that it is protected.

For example an idea for a book cannot be protected, but once you have written the manuscript then copyright applies.

What does copyright protect?

  • Books, novels, technical reports, manuals
  • Paintings, sculptures, photographs
  • Music, songs, plays, dramatic works
  • Films, videos, television and radio broadcasts
  • Engineering, technical or architectural plans
  • Promotional literature, advertising
  • Computer software, databases

Copyright – an automatic Right

Copyright does not need to be registered and rights are therefore instant and free. Whether you have taken a photograph, written a new bestseller, composed a song, so long as the work is an original work that qualifies for copyright protection – that is, it falls into one of the categories of material protected by copyright, you will automatically have copyright protection without having to do anything to establish this.

Protecting your work

  • The copyright symbol © can be used to indicate a claim to copyright. It may help protect your work if you mark it with the © symbol, your name, and the year in which it was created.
  • Deposit your work with a solicitor or a bank. There may be an annual fee charged for this service.
  • Send the originals to yourself by registered mail or special delivery signing your name across the sealed opening of the package before you post it. Keep the package unopened once you receive it, but do remember to write a list of the contents on the envelope when you do get it back so you don’t open it later by accident!

Hints and tips

  • Keep good records of everything you do relating to your idea.
  • If you work on a computer then download a second copy of your records on to a separate hard drive just in case your computer fails.
  • If you keep written records buy yourself a hard bound stitched together notebook in which to write your notes etc. Number every page and date every entry you make crossing nothing out. If you make a mistake or change your mind about something you have recorded simply cross it through leaving it still legible. This creates a record of the path you have taken from the initial spark of the idea through to the finished item and can be useful in helping to prove copyright.

How we can help

For advice and guidance on Copyright, business information or other Intellectual Property, book a one-to-one with one of the team, or join one of our Intellectual Property workshops.

Book onto our upcoming events here.