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Posted: 2005-01-16 / Author: Andrew Woolley

Copyright - Getting It, Protecting It And Keeping It

What is it?
Copyright is often misunderstood. It is not the ownership of something but it is the right to prevent others from copying some types of work known as “literary” or “artistic” works.
“Literary” applies to computer programmes, data spreadsheets, and instruction manuals even though really, these are normally just factual. Perhaps obviously it covers books, novels etc. It covers the wording for a website and this Factsheet! Just to avoid any doubt, a plain English explanation would be that it covers how the words are set out not the words themselves.

“Artistic” refers to things such as photos, drawings, garden plans, engineering drawings and architects plans

How do I get it?
You “get” copyright immediately you create an original work by your own skill and effort - so if you largely use somebody else’s work (even if you change it a little bit!) you don’t have the copyright in it. To protect your copyright it is not essential to put a copyright notice on what you produce, but it is advisable because many people seem to believe the opposite is true and just copy it. And if you have an argument about who created it first (or whether it was actually copied) a look at the author and the date can be very useful.

How long does it last?
70 years after the death of the author
What can I do if somebody copies my copyrighted work? You can sue for an injunction and an order allowing the items in question to be seized. Damages are possible and legal costs are usually paid back. Lack of knowledge that the items were copyrighted is no defence!

Put a copyright notice on anything you create such as above. E-mail for an example stating what work you want it to cover.
In software put some redundant hidden code so if somebody simply copies it they will find it hard to argue otherwise! To prove the date you created something, get a copy of it to us and we will sign it, date the receipt and store it FREE of charge in our secure storage facility If you are using wording, photos etc in web development work, make sure that you are not breaching copyright and maybe even have a contract term getting the person sending it to you to give you an “indemnity” against any breach.

Check your insurance - does it cover you against copyright breaches?

Articles Supplied By: Andrew Woolley from Woolley & Co -

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