Copyright Laws in the United Kingdom

Written by bernadette a. safrath
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Copyright Laws in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom's modern copyright law was passed in 1988. (Getty Thinkstock)

The United Kingdom's copyright law protects a variety of original works. Copyright law grants several rights to creators and limits how a protected work may be used without the creator's permission. The UK's copyright law has been amended over the years to allow for changes in technology.

The Development of Copyright Law

The UK's copyright law was first developed as common law, set forth in the 1709 Statute of Anne. An official statutory law, the Copyright Act, was passed in 1911. The most recent copyright law, passed in 1988, is known as the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. This act protects all intellectual property and original creations. In 1992, the regulation was updated to include protection for computer programs.

Protected Works

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act protects musical compositions, musical sound recordings, art (paintings, photography, sculptures, drawings, maps and diagrams), literary works, dramatic works, and film and television broadcasts. These original works are automatically copyrighted upon creation and do not need to be registered with the Patent Office.

Intellectual Property Office Concept House Cardiff Road Newport South Wales NP10 8QQ 08549 500 505>

Creator's Rights

A copyright owner has the exclusive right to copy the work, issue copies of the work to others, show or perform the work, or electronically broadcast the work. The copyright owner also has the right to create an adaptation of the work, including a sequel, translation, transcription or conversion.

Duration of Copyright

Most copyrighted works, including literature, film, television, dramatic works and musical compositions are protected for 70 years after the creator's death. However, sound recordings of musical works are protected for 50 years after the date of the recording.

Infringement and Permissible Use

Copyright infringement occurs when a copyright owner's rights are violated. However, copyrighted works may be used in a limited number of circumstances without permission. Works may be used for research or educational purposes, or may be performed in a private setting for no profit. Additionally, "time shifting," (e.g., recording a television broadcast to watch at a later time) is permissible as long as it is for private, non-profit use.

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