Copyright is a type of intellectual property. The main legislation relating to copyright in the UK is set out in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Essentially, copyright rewards authors for the creation of original works and seeks to protect the copyright owner against others copying or reproducing their work. In general terms, original works are works where the author has expended independent effort to create the work.
In the UK, the law relating to copyright protects the following categories of works:
1. Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works - in the case of literary, dramatic or musical works they must be recorded in some way;
2. Sound recordings, films or broadcasts; and
3. The typographical arrangements of published editions.
Copyright seeks to protect the form of expression of an idea and not the idea itself. An idea may be protected by other areas of law, such as, confidentiality.
The law relating to copyright does not provide a monopoly in relation to an idea. It is intended to prevent copying. Accordingly, there will be no breach of copyright in an existing similar or identical work if it has not been copied.
There is no register of copyright works in the UK. Accordingly, there are no registration formalities to be observed for a work to receive copyright protection in the UK. Copyright protection arises automatically in relation to all works which qualify for protection.
While it is not a requirement in the UK, a copyright owner is advised to mark copyright works with the international copyright symbol © followed by the name of the copyright owner and year of publication. This may assist a copyright owner in the event of infringement proceedings.