Copyright FAQs

What is copyright?

Copyright is an Intellectual Property right giving the creator of certain types of materials (listed below) the right to control how those materials are used.

What materials can be protected by copyright?

Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, as well as sound recordings, broadcasts and the layout or typographical arrangement of a published work.

Can ideas be protected?

No. Copyright protects the expression of an idea, but the idea itself cannot be protected.

Who is the copyright owner?

Generally, the first owner of copyright is the author of the work. Care should be taken for works created in the course of employment or commissioned works.

How long does copyright last?

Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works lasts 70 years after the death of the author. Sound recordings and broadcasts are protected for 50 years from publication or broadcast. Typographical arrangements are protected for 25 years from publication. If the work was created outside the UK, the term of protection may be shorter.

Does copyright have to be registered?

No. In the UK, copyright arises automatically upon the creation of a work.

Do i need to mark the work with © in order to claim copyright?

No, this isn’t required in the UK. However, marking your work with © and the date of the work may help when enforcing your copyright and could give you automatic protection in some foreign countries.

Does copyright apply to material published on the internet?

Yes. When using online material, find out who owns the copyright and seek permission before using their work.

What do I do if my copyright is being infringed?

If you think your copyright has been infringed you should seek legal advice.

What if someone accuses me of infringing their copyright?

If you’re contacted by a third party who claims you have infringed its copyright, don’t ignore it. Seek legal advice immediately.

We can assist you in all aspects of copyright protection and enforcement. If you have any questions please contact a member of our trade marks team or contact us at