Copyright is a hugely complex issue further complicated because copyright law often differs between countries. There are however some essential concepts that all "creators" of "original works" should be aware of, including ...
This article offers a brief introduction to these concepts.
Most fonts include both the
copyright "©" symbol and registered
trademark "®" symbol but NOT
the symbol for Phonographic copyright.
Download a sans serif PostScript font
which includes both publishing and
copyright symbols ("c" and "p" on the
keyboard) here ...
In its widest sense "Intellectual copyright" is the whole of copyright. It is automatically invested in the creator at the moment a work is created. Because Intellectual copyright is the power to determine when and how a work is reproduced it can be used to generate income.
Creators of copyrighted works include ...
... and many other materials ...
Q Can the idea of Drum 'n' bass music be copyrighted?
A No, but a particular track can be.
Q Can the word "Apple" be copyrighted?
A Only as a trademark (styled logo) associated with a type of business.
Q Can a font be copyrighted?
A Yes, and its license will define how freely you are able to use it.
Q Can the name "Bill Wyman" be copyrighted?
A As a trademark in association with a particular activity, yes.
There are 4 primary categories of rights ...
Moral rights are not economic in nature. They are inalienable, which means they cannot be sold, assigned or otherwise transferred except upon the death of the creator.
The moral rights are ...
The right to prevent the unauthorised duplication, distribution, broadcast and performance of a work
The right to decide how and when a work is duplicated, distributed and sold, and by whom. The copyright owner might do this by entering into a licensing deal with a publisher or record company, and then receiving a royalty payment whenever a CD, book or poster is sold. Here are some examples ...
The right to decide how and when a work is exhibited, broadcast or performed live, and by whom.
Copyright does not last forever, it expires after a number of years. Around the world, term of copyright differs from country to country. Here is a rough guide to average terms.
Mechanical copyright (the copyright in a fixation) is treated separately.
When the term of copyright has expired, a work or a fixation of a work is said to be in "the public domain".
If a music publisher were to produce a new edition of the complete works of Bach whose music has been in the public domain for two centuries or more, that new printed edition would be protected by the 1988 Act for 25 years., and the publisher would not need to pay royalties to Bach's ancestors or whoever the last copyright holders were.
Similarly, a recording of musical (or literary) works, regardless of whether they are themselves copyright or non-copyright works, would endure as copyright material for 50 years.
Q Does software have a term of copyright?
A Yes, software can be copyrighted and patented. However,
every time a new version is released it can be registered again
Q Does someone own the copyright of "Happy Birthday"?
A Yes, its still in copyright and Michael Jackson owns it.
Copyright law exists to protect creative works and their value. If an original work has been thought up and fixed in any format (i.e. photographed, filmed, recorded, saved to disk, written down etc in some physical form), then it can be owned and that ownership can be defended.
Copyright law enables creators to achieve value from the use of their creations and to help users to gain access to those creations. A creator (copyright-owner) is entitled to be paid each time a creation (work) is presented (performed), reproduced (copied) or adapted (arranged).
All of us come into contact with the practical implementation of copyright law every day of our lives, from the clothes we wear, which may have protected designs, to the books we read and what we hear on the radio.
Q If a student quotes from a book or magazine article
in a piece of academic work, are they breaching copyright?
A No, but there are strict rules controlling what percentage
can be copied and how the work should be credited.
The fundamentals of the 1988 Act (discussed later) define the rights of copyright owners in terms of certain restricted acts which only the owner may do or authorise for the term of copyright. These are to ...
The ramifications of copying have taken a completely new direction with the arrival of the Internet and digital files such as mp3s. The ability to copy and distribute digital information, whether text, sound or image began to create a culture which spread the belief that intellectual property of all kinds was freely available. No-one can have missed the focus of the media on this very contemporary issue.
Q If you incorporate a loop from a sample CD, which you
have purchased, into a track that you then sell commercially,
can you claim ownership of 100% of the track?
A Yes and no. This is dependent on the licensing guidelines on the disc
Formats and fixations are all manner of physical products such as manuscript, print, craft object, recordings (CDs etc), as well as typographical arrangement or layout whether text, music or illustration. Some examples of fixations you may not have thought of are public records, holiday snaps, and knitting patterns.
With the entry on the world scene of the internet, there are also transient media such as streamed audio and video and webcasts. No doubt when we achieve telekinetic functions, copyright law will need to evolve to encompass those acts as well!
Q Is a doorbell chime of a copyrighted tune a fixation?
Producers of physical formats ("fixations") might be ...
The law also vests copyright of the work of an employee in the employer unless otherwise agreed. When an institution claims the copyright of works created by those employed by the institution, they are in effect acting as publishers or producers. As such, they should also undertake the responsibilities of a publisher or producer which would include a commitment to exploit the work.
Q Does a college own the copyright to the work you have completed
whilst studying on the course?
A Yes and this is a hugely contentious issue in HE. The law was originally
constructed to allow institutions to benefit from patents and inventions
created by students using university resources and know how.
A copyright holder may permanently or temporarily assign their copyrights to another individual. This is nearly always a commercial negotiation except after death when copyrights ownership will move to the copyright holders beneficiaries.
It is important to say that the form the agreement takes depends entirely on the result of the negotiation process and that although there are well recognised contractual practice's, an agreement or "deal" can take any form.
Here are a few example situations ...
In the world of television production it is common for a composer to be employed on the basis that the copyright to the music the right will be owned by the production company. This process is often referred to as a buy out and may be a point of bitter negotiation. The composers moral rights are retained. Music written for commercials is almost always a buy-out.
An author may assign a copyright to a book publisher for the following reasons ...
A composer may assign a copyright to a music publisher for the following reasons ...
A photographer or artists may agree a contract with a picture library whereby they receive an initial payment to cover their costs and then a royalty every time their images are used.
A composer may agree a contract with a music library whereby they receive an initial payment to cover their costs and then a royalty every time their music is used.
Infringement takes place when use is made of a copyright work without authorisation direct from the copyright owner, or from the agency mandated on the copyright owner’s behalf to grant a licence. This can easily take place out of ignorance or avoidance.
For example you buy a CD and make a copy so you can have one at home and one in the car. This action, although technically an infringement, in practice, would be overlooked.
However, you then make a couple of copies for some friends. Either you did not know you could not make copies for others (ignorance) or you thought the copyright owners would not get to know about it (avoidance). You then decide to make some more copies and charge for the service so that your friends acquire the CD for less than the retail price and you are not out of pocket. That is clear infringement.
Although the copyright owners are unlikely to go to the expense of taking you to court, the law provides that an injunction can be put on your activities and unauthorised goods seized as well as fining you and sending you to jail.
Q Can you make a backup copy of legally owned software?
A special provision in the law allows for the legal owner to
make a single backup
As soon as a new work comes into being, a copyright is vested in it. That right has been enshrined in an Act of Parliament: the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Since 1988, European Union Directives have led to the implementation of European law into UK law through various Statutory Instruments which have amended or extended the scope of the Act. Much of this has been in response to new technologies and there is more to come ...