In the UK, copyright arises automatically on creation of an original artistic or other work of a qualifying type. These include literature, drama, music, art, sound and film broadcasts, etc. No registration is required for UK protection.

Copyright symbols

Precautions should be taken so that copyright can be enforced when necessary. To ensure copyright protection, the original work should be retained with a means of identifying the creator and the date created. Typically, this involves the author signing and dating the original work. A reliable and accountable records keeping system should be used.

The term of copyright may vary, but usually it is the life of the author plus 70 years. The copyright in films is 70 years from the death of the individuals involved in creating the film.

For different types of copyright, the term varies. For example under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the copyright in computer generated works expires after 50 years. Similarly, the copyright in broadcast or cable programs, sound recordings and films also expires after 50 years from creation. For typographical arrangements, the copyright term is shorter - expiring after 25 years. Each original work gives rise to its own copyright. Calculation of the term of copyright in photographs created before January 1 st 1996 is complicated.

Copyright is not infringed by an individual independently producing an identical article, hence it is only infringed by actual copying of the original. Complex works, such as computer software, can provide difficulties when determining the difference between an original and a copy. In these cases, it is useful to include some kind of identifying feature.