Copyright notices

A copyright notice is a concise note published by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) providing basic copyright guidance.

The copyright notice service allows anyone to ask us to provide basic guidance on an area of copyright law where there is particular confusion or misunderstanding.

It is intended to provide an authoritative, impartial and reliable point of reference. It does not register copyright works.

Copyright is an automatic right and there are no official formalities to acquire copyright protection. There is no public or Government register of copyright in the UK.

The copyright notice service does not intend to deal with specific disputes which are primarily of interest only to the parties concerned.

It does not make new law or issue a direction to a judicial making body. It is not a substitute for a legal case and it is not a statutory piece of legislation.

The service is aimed at those who do not have access to expert legal advice such as Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) and is designed to address issues which are of broad concern.

The copyright system can be inconsistent and confusing, particularly in relation to the application of new technologies, and this leads to imbalances of information between rights holders (such as publishers) and users (such as teachers and researchers).

By providing clear and reliable information on what is permissible under copyright law, the notices help schools and other educational institutions make better judgments about lawful uses of copyright works, for example.

To request a notice, please complete the online form. The issue should be outlined as clearly as possible with relevant background.

While we prefer you submit requests using the online form, we will accept requests in writing:

Copyright Notices
Intellectual Property Office
4 Abbey Orchard St

There is no fee to submit a request.

For any general enquiries about copyright notices, please email

We have discretion over when to respond to a request for a notice and it is unlikely that it will be able to provide a notice in response to every request.

We will periodically review notices to ensure they remain up to date both in terms of the law and developments in technology. Notices will be clearly marked with the date of issue or update.

Prioritisation criteria

  1. Can the question(s) raised be answered by general rather than specific guidance?
  2. Is there a demonstrable need for a copyright notice on the question(s) because of:
    a) the number of requests?
    b) the lack of existing guidance on the question(s) from the IPO or other body, eg other authoritative and impartial sources? and/or
    c) the introduction of new technology raising novel issues?
  3. Is a copyright notice likely to have a significant impact because it will provide clarity on:
    a) practical situations encountered by large numbers of right holders/users, eg teachers and students? and/or
    b) facilitating innovation or reducing actions which infringe copyright?

We issue copyright notices in response to requests or on our own initiative.

We have discretion whether to respond to a request for a notice.

Copyright notices are intended to set out general guidance; if the request is for guidance on a specific dispute or set of facts or will require evaluation of evidence, the requestor should seek his or her own legal advice.

In deciding what guidance to give through copyright notices, we will take into account:

  • our available resources
  • within that constraint, as many of the prioritisation criteria set out above as we consider relevant

The fact that one of the criteria or one example of the factors relevant to one of the criteria is met in any particular case does not necessarily mean a notice will be issued.

Prioritisation criteria will be kept under review and this information will be reissued with any revised criteria.

Published notices

  1. Digital images, photographs and the internet
  2. Assignment of copyright
  3. Performance of live music
  4. Knitting and sewing patterns
  5. Public exhibition of copyright works
  6. Printed music
Published 19 May 2014
Last updated 22 September 2016 + show all updates
  1. Copyright notice: printed music (2/2016) added.
  2. Copyright notice 5/2015 (public exhibition of copyright works) added.
  3. New copyright notice 4/2015 added.
  4. Link to new copyright notice - Performance of live music added.
  5. Copyright notice: assingment of copyright added.
  6. First published.