Copyright Myths

UK Copyright Law and how to protect your work and website from theft or unauthorised use.


Permission is granted to link to this page but NOT to copy any part of it.
If you want a legal copyright notice for your website you are given permission to use this one, providing you leave our copyright notice intact. Anyone found not doing so will suffer the full consequences in the UK law courts.
Articles on this page:

Item 1 – Standard Copyright Notice
Item 2 – Copyright Facts & Myths
Item 3 – Duration of Copyright

Item 1 – Standard Copyright Notice

We take the theft of our original work very seriously and would draw to your attention it is protected under UK copyright law. Please note we always sue for compensation if any part of our website, design or seo whether text or images, are found being used without prior authorisation in writing.

Copyright FAQs which you may find of interest.

What is intellectual property?
Who owns copyright?
What is protected by copyright?
What are the economic rights of copyright owners?
What are moral rights?
How can I obtain permission to use someone else’s copyright?
What are the exceptions to copyright?
What is automatic protection?
How can I protect my rights?

For the answer to these questions and many more please go to:

Copyright Facts & Myths – Š 2006 – 2008 Talking Web Pages – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In the eyes of the law, ignorance is no excuse, and the penalties can be very high. So make sure when you post a copyright notice on your website or html newsletter, that you link your copyright notice to this page. Then at least anyone stealing your work cannot say they didn’t know! YOU may also learn how to better protect your creative work.

This page is about copyright facts and myths. So therefore it is already assumed you know at least what copyright is.
But in case you have any doubts;

Copyright gives the creators of a wide range of material, such as literature (any text), art (any images), music, (any sounds), films (any movies – amateur or otherwise) and broadcasts (radio, tv, mobile phone or anything else), economic rights enabling them to control use of their material in a number of ways, such as (but not limited to) making copies, issuing copies to the public, performing in public, broadcasting and the usage on the internet. It also gives the moral rights to be identified as the creator and owner of certain kinds of material, and to object to distortion or mutilation of it.

The main purpose of copyright is to allow original creators to gain economic rewards for their efforts and so encourage continued creativity and inspire the development of new material to benefit us all. Copyright material is usually the result of creative skill and significant labour or investment, and without protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator.
Usage of copyright material therefore require permission from the copyright owner.


FACT: Copyright protection is automatic as soon as there is a record in any form of what has been created (there is no official registration required). However, steps can be taken by the creator of a work to provide evidence that he or she had the work at a particular time. For example, a copy could be deposited with a bank or solicitor. Alternatively, a creator could send themselves a copy by special delivery post (which gives a clear date stamp on the envelope), leaving the envelope unopened on its return. A number of private companies operate unofficial registers, but it would be sensible to check carefully what you will be paying for before choosing this option.
It is important to note, that this does not prove that a work is original or created by you. But it may be useful to be able to show that the work was in your possession at a particular date, for example where someone else claims that you have copied something of theirs that was only created at a later date

MYTH: “If it doesn’t have a copyright notice, it’s not copyrighted.”
This may have been true once but now you you should assume everything is copyrighted and may not be copied unless it STATES otherwise. There are some old works that lost protection without notice (for example classical music), but frankly you should not risk it unless you know for sure.
It is true that a notice strengthens the protection, by warning people, but it is not necessary. If it looks copyrighted, you should assume it is. This applies to pictures, too. You may not scan pictures from magazines, postcards, matchboxes or ANY other image and post them to the net, and if you come upon something unknown, you shouldn’t post that either.
If you wish to place a copyright notice on your work. The correct form for a notice is: “Copyright [date] by [name of owner]”
You can use C in a circle Š instead of “Copyright”. The phrase “All Rights Reserved” is commonly used but is not legally required.

MYTH: “If I don’t charge for it, it’s doesn’t count.”
If you make a charge for someone else’s copyright it can affect the amount of damages awarded against you in court. But it’s still a violation even if you give it away – and there can still be serious damages if you hurt the commercial value of the property.

MYTH: “If it’s posted to the internet it’s in the public domain.”
This is incorrect. Nothing is in the public domain unless the copyright owner explicitly puts it in the public domain (PD). This means, just because the copyright owner places an image on the internet it does not become a ‘free for all’. If the legal owner places anything into the public domain they must also give specific instructions i.e. “I grant this to the public domain.”.
The granting of something PD is a complete abandonment of all rights, and if the work is PD, then other people can modify one pixel or sound byte and then copyright it in their own name. For this reason you will rarely if ever find PD.
One of the modern day infringements of internet copyright is logos and images for mobile phones. As soon as a new images was created and placed on the internet for sale, thousands of copies would suddenly appear on other websites being offered for sale without payment being offered to the originator. Many of these copyright thefts ended up in court.

FACT: “I can copy someone’s work for fair use!”
This is true, but you could still become involved in a legal battle if you are not careful.
Fair use is generally a short excerpt and almost always attributed to the original author. It does not permit anyone to use various sections of someone else’s work to enhance their own. Plus it should not harm the commercial value of the work – in the sense of people no longer needing to buy it.
Fair use isn’t an exact doctrine, though. The court decides if the right to comment overrides the copyright on an individual basis in each case. The “fair use” concept varies from country to country, and has different names and other limitations outside the UK.

MYTH: “If you don’t defend your stolen copyright you lose it.”
Copyright is effectively never lost, unless it is explicitly given away. Often there is confusion between copyright and trademarks, for example “Apple”. You cannot copyright the words, but when used as “Apple Computers”, it becomes a recognisable and registered trademark. Apple Computers “owns” that word when applied to that term, even though it is also an ordinary word. Apple Records owns it when applied to music. Neither owns the word on its own, only in context, and owning a mark doesn’t mean complete control.
You can’t use somebody else’s trademark in a way that would steal the value of the mark, or in a way that might make people confuse you with the real owner of the mark, or which might allow you to profit from the mark’s good name. You can use marks to criticise or parody the holder, as long as it’s clear you aren’t the holder.

MYTH: “If I make up my own stories, based on a similar work, my new work belongs to me.”
The law is quite explicit that the making of what is called “derivative work”. That means works based or derived from another copyrighted work – is the exclusive province of the owner of the original work.
An example of derived work (although it still requires permission of the original author) is a movie that is based on a book. If permission was granted to use the story from the book, then a new copyrighted work has been registered, but the original author would still receive some credit for their work. BUT there is an important exception i.e. criticism and parody.

FACT: “There are exceptions to copyright”.
Exceptions to copyright do not generally give you rights to use copyright material; they just state that certain activities do not infringe copyright. So it is possible that an exception could be overridden by a contract you have agreed limiting your ability to do things that would otherwise fall within the scope of an exception.
There are a number of exceptions to copyright that allow limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner. For example, limited use of works may be possible for non-commercial research and private study, criticism or review, reporting current events, judicial proceedings, teaching in schools and other educational establishments, not for profit playing of sound recordings and to help visually impaired people.

MYTH: “It’s easier to get forgiveness, than to get permission”.
UK copyright law is very unforgiving, and if the original author of works presses charges against you, there is no such defence as ‘sorry I didn’t know’. If you violate copyright you will get sued and charged with infringement. In civil cases you can even be made to testify against your own interests.

MYTH: “Copyright theft is not a crime?”
If you believe that, try copying a few Ł20 notes, and see what happens!

MYTH: “I received it in an email – so I can use it.”
To have a copy is not to have the copyright. Technically even the text in e-mails you receive (or write) are all copyrighted. You are committing an offence by forwarding or extracting this information. But in reality if someone tries to sue over an ordinary message that has no commercial value, they would be unlikely to succeed, but you should always ask first.


Duration of copyright:
The term of protection or duration of copyright varies depending on the type of copyright work. For copyright works originating outside the UK or another country of the European Economic Area (EEA), the term of protection may also be shorter if it is shorter in the country of origin. There may also be variations in the term where a work was created before 1 January 1996. But in general, the terms of protection in the UK are as follows:

Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work lasts for the life of the author and 70 years from the end of the year in which he/she died.

Copyright in a film expires 70 years after the end of the year in which the death occurs of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created for the film.

Copyright in a sound recording expires 50 years from the end of the year in which it was made or, if published in this time, 50 years from the end of the year of publication. If not published during that 50 year period, but it is played in public or communicated to the public during that period, 50 years from the first of these to happen.

Copyright in a broadcast expires 50 years from the end of the year of making of the broadcast.

Copyright in a published edition expires 25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published

Permission is granted to link to this page but NOT to copy any part of it.