1. Overview

Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission.

You automatically get copyright protection when you create:

  • original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography
  • original non-literary written work, eg software, web content and databases
  • sound and music recordings
  • film and television recordings
  • broadcasts
  • the layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works

You can mark your work with the copyright symbol (©), your name and the year of creation. Whether you mark the work or not doesn’t affect the level of protection you have.

How copyright protects your work

Copyright prevents people from:

  • copying your work
  • distributing copies of it, whether free of charge or for sale
  • renting or lending copies of your work
  • performing, showing or playing your work in public
  • making an adaptation of your work
  • putting it on the internet

Copyright overseas

Your work could be protected by copyright in other countries through international agreements, eg the Berne Convention.

In most countries copyright lasts a minimum of life plus 50 years for most types of written, dramatic and artistic works, and at least 25 years for photographs. It can be different for other types of work.

Contact the IPO Information Centre if you have a question about international copyright.

IPO Information Centre
information@ipo.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 300 2000
Fax: 01633 817777
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Find out about call charges