What is Protected by Copyright?

Original Works
To receive copyright protection, literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works must be original. Ultimately, only the courts can decide whether a work is original or not. However, broadly, two elements constitute originality in the UK.

First, the work must not be copied.

Second, an author must have expended more than negligible labour, skill and effort in the creation of the work.

To receive protection, films, sound recordings, typographical arrangements and broadcasts do not need to satisfy the originality criteria. Instead films, sound recordings and typographical arrangements receive protection if they are not copied from a previous work of the same kind. Broadcasts will receive copyright protection if they do not infringe the copyright of another broadcast.

To receive copyright protection in the UK, a literary, musical or dramatic work must be recorded in writing or otherwise. Examples of this include a composer transcribing a musical work into a written score or an author dictating a novel into a recorder.

Other Qualification Requirements
To receive copyright protection in the UK a work must meet the qualification requirements, either through the nationality of its author or through its place of first publication. These qualification requirements are consistent with the UK’s international obligations.

Literary Works
Copyright applies to recorded original literary works such as novels, newspaper articles, lyrics for songs, instruction manuals and exam papers. These creations are within the definition of literary works in the CDPA, as are computer programs and databases. Databases are also protected by their own database right.

A name, title or slogan might not meet the criteria for copyright protection, however this is for the courts to decide. These may be eligible for registration as a trade mark, or a common-law action to prevent passing-off may give protection for unregistered trade marks. Logos may be protected under copyright as artistic works, and many trade marks may therefore also be copyright works.

If you wish to copy a copyright literary work in any way, for example, photocopying, reproducing a printed page by handwriting or typing it or scanning into a computer you need the permission of the copyright owner unless any exceptions apply (see Exceptions to Copyright)

Dramatic Works
Copyright applies to recorded original dramatic works such as ballet, mime and plays. A dramatic work is different from a literary work because it requires action and must be capable of being performed. If you wish to perform a dramatic work, for example performing a play in public in an amateur theatre group you need the permission of the copyright owner, for example through a licence unless any exceptions apply (see If you have copyright, What can you do with it).

Musical Works
Copyright applies to a recorded original musical work such as a blues tune, an advertisement jingle or a sonata. It is important to note that a musical work must be recorded by being written in a score or by sound recording or on film.

If you wish to copy or perform a musical work, for example playing cover songs at a gig in a local pub or copying MP3 files onto CDs, permission of the copyright holders will be required unless any exceptions apply

Artistic Works
Copyright exists in original artistic works such as paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, photographs, diagrams, maps, works of architecture and works of artistic craftsmanship.

If you wish to use copyright protected artistic works, for example making a poster for a book club using a photograph from the front cover of the book you may need permission from the copyright owner if none of the copyright exceptions apply.

Artistic Works – Photographs
Photographs are protected as artistic works (see What is protected by copyright). However, the exceptions to copyright in photographs are different to exceptions to copyright in artistic works e.g. the fair dealing provision for reporting current events does not apply to photographs.

Copyright protects films, defined as a recording on any medium from which a moving image may by any means be reproduced. Films are not just big budget cinema pictures but include home videos or the DVDs of television programmes.

A film may include a number of works which are protected by copyright. So for example, the score may be protected as a musical work, the screenplay may be protected as a dramatic work, and the script may be an adaptation of a book, both of which are protected as literary works.

If you wish to show a copyright protected film you will need to get permission from the owners of each of these separate copyrights unless there are any applicable exceptions (see Exceptions to copyright).

Typographical Arrangements
Copyright protection applies to typographical arrangements of a published edition of the whole or any part of a one or more literary, dramatic or musical works.

If you wish to use a copyright protected typographical arrangement you may need to get permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright applies to broadcasts, defined as the electronic transmission of visual images, sounds or other information which

are transmitted for simultaneous reception by members of the public and are capable of being lawfully received by them, or
are transmitted at a time determined solely by the person making the transmission for presentation to members of the public.
Some internet transmissions are excluded from this definition.

Copyright protection for the broadcast is not the same as the copyright protection of the content of the broadcast. The components that make up the broadcast will receive protection individually. For example the recording of a song being played on the television show is still protected as a musical and literary work and a sound recording separate from the broadcast. Performers’ rights also need to be considered.

If you wish to use a copyright protected broadcast you will need to get permission from the copyright owner unless copyright exceptions apply.

Sound Recordings
Copyright applies to sound recordings; these are defined as (a) a recording of sounds from which the sounds may be reproduced or (b) a recording of the whole or any part of a literary, dramatic or musical work, from which sounds reproducing the work or part may be produced, regardless of the medium on which the recording is made or the method by which the sounds are reproduced or produced. So, a CD, an MP3 or a vinyl record may all be sound recordings.

Copyright protection for the sound recording is not the same as the copyright protection of the content of the sound recording. For example, the modern opera libretto or the modern opera score receives protection separately from the recording that is made of the modern opera.

If you wish to use a copyright protected sound recording you will need to get permission from the copyright owner unless an exception applies

What is not Protected by copyright?
(i) Works In The Public Domain
If the copyright in a work has expired (see How long does copyright last?), use of the work will not infringe copyright.

(ii) Expression Over Ideas
Copyright, protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. However, it can be difficult to draw a distinction between idea and expression in some cases, and therefore between what will and will not be protected by copyright.

(iii) Copyright Exceptions
There are a number of specific circumstances where reproducing or otherwise using copyright works in a manner that falls within the exclusive rights of the copyright owner is not an infringement of copyright. Some exceptions to copyright regulations are considered in more detail (see Exceptions to copyright)

This article is subject to Crown Copyright © 2012