My Copyright

Copyright is everywhere, and everyone is creating copyright all the time.


Copyright work

When you draw a sketch or write a paragraph or take a photo, you are creating a copyright work. You create copyright when your idea has a physical expression. This can take the form of an original song you write (when you will own the copyright in the lyrics and music) or even an existing one that you perform or record (when you will own the copyright in your recording and have rights in your performance).

If you code software for a game, you will own the copyright in your code. The idea for a book you’re yet to write though does not create any copyright because it’s still an idea that hasn’t been expressed.

How is my work protected?

Copyright protection arises automatically as soon as your work is created. Unlike a patent or trademark you don’t need to register your work to ensure your rights are protected by copyright.

Copyright is enforceable as a legal right in the courts, so if someone copies the whole or a substantial part of your work without your permission, you may be able to apply to the Court for an injunction (this prevents their continued use of your work). And if you have lost money as a result of this illegal copying then you can also apply for damages or an account of profits (to compensate you for your loss). For further information click on Related Links.

Uploading my work to the internet

Be aware that uploading your work to many websites and social media sites means in some cases you are effectively being asked to give away control of your copyright to the host site. Sometimes this is permanent and even irrevocable. It’s therefore always important to read the Terms & Conditions of the host site whenever you share your work and be comfortable with what is being asked of you.

In most other cases even though your work is now public on the internet and other people can see or enjoy it, you still have the right to decide how they can use it.  You should think about the questions in this section, particularly what you want other people to be able to do with it.

What if someone wants to use my work?

If other people want to use your work, like your photo, song or novel, in most cases they will need your permission. Permission can take the form of an exchange where you agree with the other person how the work will be used. It’s always recommended to do this in writing. You could choose to give permission by email or letter or in the form of a more comprehensive licence.

The terms and conditions of a licence can cover what your work is used for, for how long, whether or not you should be credited and whether you want to charge a fee for the use. You don’t need legal qualifications to do this as the copyright owner, but it’s important to understand the terms and conditions you are agreeing to. Legal advice can in some instances help with this.

Alternatively you could allow other people to use your work by making it available under schemes similar to the IPO's licensing support resources or Creative Commons for certain uses.

How can I be acknowledged for use of my work?

If you choose to be acknowledged as the creator/owner of the work, this usually takes the form of a pre-agreed credit that appears on, under or next to the work in whatever context it is being used.