Copyright is an Intellectual Property Right (IPR). Copyright law gives the owner of a copyright various rights to control the way in which their work is used. These rights may extend beyond copying to include distribution, performance and other acts. Copyright law also makes some provision for the users of copyright work. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) is the primary piece of IPR legislation in the UK. In the UK, copyright protection exists automatically; there is no need to register a work to record its ownership.
Copyright is a legal right. Infringement in the UK can lead to both civil and criminal penalties (i.e. fines and custodial sentences). The only way to avoid such infringements is to act in accordance with the law, or in accordance with a private agreement with the copyright holder.
A work must be recorded in some form to be subject to copyright. Original literary (written or printed), dramatic, musical and artistic works (including animations), sound recordings, films, broadcasts, and typographical arrangements (i.e. how a page or webpage is set out) are all subject to copyright protection. Works are protected whether they exist in print or electronic format.
The initial owner of copyright is usually the person who creates the original work (generally known as the ‘author’). If a work is created in the course of employment, the copyright is owned by the employer unless there is an agreement to the contrary. If you want to reproduce a copyright work you usually have to get permission from the copyright owner.
These are rights which authors possess independently of copyright. There are three:
The last of these does not apply in every case. To avoid infringing an author’s moral rights it is wise to make full and proper acknowledgement whenever you use any 3rd party material.
Some licence terms for academic environments have been drafted internationally which can be tailored specifically to particular types of content or circumstances. Lots of internet-based material is governed by the following licences: