Copyright: the basics
Key information regarding the basics of copyright protection and how long it lasts.
Copyright: the basics
What does copyright give you?
As discussed in the video above, there are seven categories of protected work in UK law.
For example, if you have created a literary work (a book or some computer code), an artistic work (a painting or sculpture), or a musical work (a written composition), what do you, as the creator, get in terms of rights?
Broadly speaking, copyrights are divided into two types: economic and moral.
Deals with copying and dissemination of the work, including
copying of the work
issuing copies to the public
renting or lending work to the public
performing, showing or playing in public
communicating to the public
adapting the work
Concerns protecting you as the author, including
identifying you as the author
objecting to derogatory treatment
not to having works falsely allocated
How long does copyright last?
Duration of copyright may depend upon whether a work is published or unpublished or whether the creator is known/unknown.
This table outlines the duration of copyright protection for a variety of material types in the UK. The length of protection may vary in other countries. Once works are out of copyright they enter the public domain and are available to reuse.
|Type of material||Duration of copyright|
70 years from death of author
If several authors, 70 years following death of last surviving author
|Dramatic and musical work||70 years from publication if no named author|
|Sound recordings||70 years from recording and performance rights (from November 2013)|
|Films||70 years following the last death of: director, producer, author of screenplay, composer of soundtrack|
|Broadcasts||50 years from date of broadcast|
|Typographical layout||25 years from publication|
|Crown copyright||125 years from publication but subject to a waiver|
|Unpublished anonymous works created before 1 August 1989||Copyright expires on 31 December 2039|
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