Understanding copyright

These Copyright Guidelines aim to inform all members of the University staff and students of acceptable use of third party copyright materials. Everyone will, at some point, wish to use previously published material, and it is important that in all cases the copyright holder is fully acknowledged, permission is requested (where necessary) and the appropriate fees are paid (where necessary).

The Guidelines seek to answer the more frequently asked questions relating to copyright. There are few simple responses to an area of considerable complexity, but the legal issues are important and the Guidelines have been designed to assist all staff and students navigate through the copyright maze.

The University’s Copyright Policy and ICT Acceptable Use Policy both require you to abide by copyright legislation.

We hope that you find the information contained here useful, however the contents are for general advice and best practice purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

If you have any questions regarding copyright please contact:

David Sherren, Map Librarian (with responsibility for University copyright issues)
david.sherren@port.ac.uk

What is copyright?

The law governing copyright in the UK is the 1988 Copyright, Design and Patents Act (CDPA).

Copyright gives legal rights to the creators of certain kinds of material, in order that they can control the ways in which their work may be exploited.

Copyright protection is automatic and there is no registration or other procedure to follow (in the UK). Copyright automatically comes into existence as soon as an original work is recorded in some material form. Copyright exists whether or not it is asserted using the © symbol or otherwise.

Copyright is a property right. This means that it can be exploited, bought, sold, bequeathed, rented or licensed just like any other property.

What works are protected?

Copyright only protects those categories of work as specified in the CDPA:

  1. Literary works for example, books, journals, newspaper articles, poems, emails, blogs, software, lyrics for songs and instruction manuals
  2. Artistic works for example, paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, photographs, diagrams, maps, works of architecture and works of artistic craftsmanship such as jewellery and pottery
  3. Musical works this refers to the musical notes and not the words (which are literary works)
  4. Dramatic works the non-spoken part of a presentation, including dance and mime
  5. Broadcasts which may be transmitted by cable or wireless means and including satellite broadcasts, but excluding most transmissions on the internet
  6. Sound recordings not limited by format, they can be recordings of other copyright works such as music, TV soundtracks or literature, or other sounds such as birdsong and transport
  7. Film including TV programmes, movies (e.g. on Blu-ray or DVD) and home video
  8. Typography this protects the typographical layout of a publication

In general, if material has been recorded in any way it is covered by copyright law and permission must be sought for its use.

Who owns copyright?

In general, the author or creator is the first owner of copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. The main exception is where work is made in the course of employment, in which case the employer owns the copyright. The employer owns copyright unless specialist contractual arrangements have been made. For instance, the University’s academic contract states that scholarly works and teaching aids belong to the individual member of academic staff whereas course materials’ belong to the University.

Scholarly works may be defined as publications, books, book chapters, journal articles etc. Teaching aids are those materials used by academic staff to support course delivery, such as their own personal notes, but which are not published or delivered to the students. Course materials, on the other hand, are directly used for teaching and education and may include presentations, lecture notes, handouts, and materials used for examination and assessment.

The copyright of students’ coursework resides with the student as the creator. Should the University wish to use students’ work for, say, promotional material or examples of good practice, it can only do so with the written permission of students and with due acknowledgement in any published materials.

Copyright in films, sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions belong to the film or record producer, broadcaster or publisher.

How long does copyright last?

In the UK (under EU law) the following periods of copyright ownership apply:

Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and most artistic works (including photographs) lasts for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

For example, the author H.G. Wells died on 13th August 1946. Copyright in his work therefore expires on 31 December 2016.

Duration of copyright for a film is for the period of 70 years after the death of the last to survive of the principal director, author of the screenplay, author of the dialogue, and the composer of any music composed specifically for the film.

The length of term of copyright in a sound recording depends on whether or not it has been published (released) or has been communicated to the public (for example, played on the radio)

The typographical arrangement in published editions is protected for 25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published.

Some of the information here has been adapted from public sector information provided by the Intellectual Property Office and licensed under an Open Government Licence.

When is copying allowed?

Copying is allowed

Moral rights

Works often mean more than just the economic value they can generate from their exploitation. They can be very special to the person who creates them as they have invested a lot in the work, emotionally and/or intellectually. As a result, copyright works need to be protected in ways that are different to traditional forms of property. Moral rights protect those non-economic interests.

Moral rights are only available for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film, as well as some performances. Unlike economic rights, moral rights cannot be sold or otherwise transferred. However, the rights holder can choose to waive these rights.

There are four moral rights recognised in the UK:

This is the right to be recognised as the author of a work. This right needs to be asserted before it applies. For example, in a contract with a publisher, an author may state that they assert their right to be identified as the author of their work.

Derogatory treatment is defined as any addition, deletion, alteration to or adaptation of a work that amounts to a distortion or mutilation of the work, or is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author.

This is the right not to be named as the author of a work you did not create. This would prevent, for example, a well-known author being named as the author of a story they did not write.

This right enables someone who has commissioned a photograph or film for private and domestic purposes to prevent it from being made available or exhibited to the public. For example, this would allow you to prevent a photographer from putting your wedding photographs on their website without your permission.