Copyright is an important process that protects your work and prevents other people from using that work without your prior permission. If you feel you need assistance with intellectual copyright law from solicitors with specialist knowledge in the field, first be aware of the nuances of copyright. In the UK there is no register of copyright works and you receive copyright protection automatically when you create any of the following items of work:
- An original literary, musical, dramatic and artistic work (this can include photography and illustration)
- An original non-literary written work (including web content and software)
- Recordings of film and television
- Recording of music and sound
- All broadcasts
- The layout of published editions of musical, written and dramatic works.
Once created, you have the right to mark your work with © (the copyright symbol). You should also include your full name and the year of the creation. Even if you do not mark the work with the copyright symbol, you still have full legal protection.
Copyright puts a stop to people copying your work, making an adaptation of it without your consent, distributing copies of your work without your agreement, renting or lending copies of your work or performing your work in a public space. It also prevents upload of work to the Internet without permission. Copyright law will differ from country to country, with most lasting the lifetime of the creator, at least 50-years for the majority of written and dramatic works, and 25 years for photography.
Your work is protected by copyright the moment it is created. Once expired it can be used by anyone, in any way they see fit. The length of copyright depends on the type of work created, ranging from 25 years for the layout of published editions of written, dramatic or musical works, to 50 years from the date of first broadcast, or 70 years after the death of the director, screenplay author and composer of a film, and 70 years from date of publication for sound and music recordings.
If you own the copyright to your work you can license it and decide how it is used. Registering with a licensing body ensures that all agreements, licences and royalties are dealt with and collected on your behalf. You do have the right to sell or transfer your copyright to another party with a written legal document. This can be as part of an inheritance.
You are responsible for defending your copyright material against infringement and should you believe that someone is using your work without the rights to do so it is best to seek legal advice from copyright solicitors. There must be an application made by people or organisation before a work covered by copyright can be used. If your work has been licenced or is in the application process you can apply to have the application stopped or to claim the licence fee should the application have already been accepted.
Copyright law can be complicated in some cases so it is always the best process to seek expert legal advice relating to your copyright and works.