United Kingdom

Legal background

Scope and duration of copyright

Is the period of protection of each type of copyright work limited to the minimum duration mandated by the Berne Convention? NO
Various formulas are used in UK legislation and generally the copyright term is either 70 or 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which a work was fixed. Copyright terms may be subject to change in 2009. For literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works (including films) the copyright term is 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies. If the author is unknown, copyright will last for 70 years from end of the calendar year in which the work was fixed. For sound recordings and broadcasts the copyright term is 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was fixed, or, if the work is released within that time: 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first released. For typographical arrangement of published editions the copyright term is 25 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published. For broadcasts and cable programmes the copyright terms is 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the broadcast was made.
1988 Act
Must a work be fixed in some material form before copyright attaches? YES
Designers Guild established that “there can be no copyright in an idea which is merely in the head, which has not been expressed in copyrightable form, as a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work”. The 1988 Act contains an explicit requirement of fixation before any literary, dramatic or musical work may enjoy copyright protection. The main form of fixation mentioned in the 1988 Act is writing but fixation may also occur in other forms. There is however no copyright on the unrecorded spoken word. Copyright does not come into existence until a recording in either tangible or visible form is made, which may include electronic storage in digital form.
Designers Guild, 1988 Act
Is the exercise of copyright subject to competition law, for example by compulsory licensing or regulation of royalties in the case of copyright holders who misuse their monopoly power? YES
UK and EU competition law may be applied where the intellectual property law holder of a product occupies a position of strength which may not, ultimately, be to the benefits of consumers. UK competition law is modelled on EU competition law, which also applies in the UK. Violation of Article 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty may result in compulsory licensing. With regards to Article 81 of the EC Treaty the European Commission has stated that (OJ2004/C 101/02): “The fact that intellectual property laws grant exclusive rights of exploitation does not imply that intellectual property rights are immune from competition law intervention.” Copyright licensing agreements are subject to Article 81 if they affect trade between EU member states and if they have the “object or effect of preventing, distorting or restricting competition”, which may include absolute territorial exclusivity. Article 82 of the EC Treaty established what is known as refusal to supply, applied in cases where IPR owners refusal to supply amounts to the abuse of a dominant position. Magill established that in exceptional circumstances the refusal to license might constitute an abuse of a dominant position. The Competition Act 1988 came into force on 1 March 2000 and is closely modelled on Article 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, however the Competition Act 1988 does not require trade between EU member states to be affected.
EC Treaty Articles 81 and 82, Magill, Competition Act 1988
Is the exercise of copyright subject to compliance with a bill of rights or similar human rights instrument, for example by preventing copyright from being used to stifle protected speech? YES
In Ashdown the Court of Appeal held that exceptions to copyright must be read in the light of the European Convention on Human Rights, i.e. the Human Rights Act 1998 which enacted the European Convention in the UK. The case concerned the impact of the Article 10 - right to freedom of expression - upon the fair dealing defence to claims of infringement under the 1988 Act. The Court of Appeal concluded that if freedom of expression comes into conflict with copyright and is not covered by fair dealings or permitted acts as per the 1988 Act, the 1988 Act must be applied in a manner that accommodates the right to freedom of expression, (specifically s 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998). Protection of the right to privacy (Article 8 of the European Convention) is weighed against freedom of expression (Article 10) and English courts have held that there is no inherent preference of the right to private life or the right to free expression in their interpretations.
Ashdown, ECHR, HRA, 1988 Act
Does the compilation of a database of non-original material fall outside the scope of copyright? NO
The elements of a database may be works in their own right, or simply items of information in textual, visual or audio form. Not all databases are protected by copyright. The 1988 Act includes a special definition of the level of originality that a database must show (s 3A(2)): “if, and only if, by reason of the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database the database constitutes the author’s own intellectual creation.” (note the Database Directive may protect databases that are not awarded copyright protection under this originality criteria). The copyright awarded to databases by the 1988 Act does not cover the content of the database, but their selection or arrangement – that is the way in which the contents are structured. This structure must be the author’s own intellectual creation, not some standard method. Databases are defined by the 1988 Act (s 3A) as: “collections of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means.”
1988 Act, Database Directive
Do exceptions and limitations in national copyright law prevail over contracts purporting to limit or override them? LIMITED
This question is unresolved by statute and case law. The 1988 Act established exception and limitations under the heading permitted acts (they may also be known as user rights) – acts which can be performed subject to terms and conditions specified by the statute rather than by the copyright owner. However copyright law gives protection to technical protection measures (TPMs), which are used to prevent unauthorised access to and use of copyrighted digital works. TPM are capable of preventing use under the permitted acts and the circumvention of TPM is illegal so long as the protected work is made available by way of contractual terms. Hence TPM establish a situation where rights holders and would-be users contract for the use of the copyright work, raising complex questions about the inter-relationship between exceptions to copyright, TPMs and contract rights.
1988 Act

Freedoms to access and use

By Home UsersIs time, space and format shifting allowed (such as ripping music from CD to an MP3 player)? LIMITED
Time-shifting of television programmes and radio broadcasts does not constitute infringement of copyright as long as it is carried out in domestic premises for "private and domestic use". Selling or otherwise dealing with a copy made under these provisions may become a secondary infringement of copyright. However, format shifting is not permitted under the 1988 Act, although among consumers there appears to be a widespread belief that such action is permissible.
1988 Act, ss.70 and 71
Can consumers reproduce copyright material for their own use in the original format, for example for backup purposes? NO
In the case of software the Software Directive, and hence the 1988 Act, entitle lawful users of a program to make “necessary” back-up copies. There is however no case law that has determined the scope of “necessary” yet. More generally UK law does no provide any general exception to copyright liability for private use. Hence much private use remains a wrongful act. Despite this the industry has never pursued anyone for copying within such boundaries.
Software Directive Article 5(2), 1988 Act s.50A
Can works be communicated to a limited public (for example, family and friends) without infringing copyright? NO
UK law does no provide any general exception to copyright liability for private use. Hence much private use remains a wrongful act. The communication to the public of a work is restricted by copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, sound recordings, films and broadcasts. This right was introduced in implementation of the InfoSoc Directive.
1988 Act, InfoSoc Directive
In any other cases may reproductions be made on a private, noncommercial basis, for example through peer-to-peer file sharing? NO
UK law does no provide any general exception (i.e. permitted acts) to copyright liability for private use. Hence much private use remains a wrongful act.
1988 Act
Are blank media and computer hardware sold free of compulsory levies collected for copyright owners? YES
There are no levies in the UK. UK law does not provide for copyright exceptions and so there is no basis for a levy providing compensation.
For EducationIs reproduction permitted for the purposes of research or study? NO
There are a number of narrow permitted acts in favour of educational establishments (schools, further education colleges and universities). The non-commercial copying of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works is permitted in the course of instruction (or in preparation), provided that the copying is: done by person giving or receiving instruction; not done by a reprographic process (i.e. photocopying, printouts of electronically stored material and electronic copies of such material); and accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement unless practically or otherwise impossible. For example, a teacher dictating a poem to a class is permitted, but cutting and pasting text or images from a website into a project would not be permissible under this provision. The 1988 Act provides for a private study exception under the heading fair dealings. Private study is regarded as permitted act for users of websites, at any rate in the domestic context. This means that the web surfer at home may make lawful use of the work embodied in the website when a temporary copy is made in the computer RAM by accessing the site.
1988 Act, s.32(1), (2A), s.29 (inserted by 2003 regulations)
Is it permissible to copy an entire work and to make any number of copies? NO
Reprography (ie. photocopying, printouts of electronically stored material and electronic copies) for non-commercial instructional purposes by educational establishments is subject to severe limitations. Reprographic copies of more than 1 percent of any work in any quarter of a year are prohibited, and only permissible if licences for such copying are not available.
1988 Act, s.36
Does any such research and study provision cover distance and online education? NO
1988 Act
May translations of works be made for educational purposes? NO
1988 Act
May works be reproduced and published by educational institutions in connection with systematic instructional activities? NO
1988 Act
OnlineIs hyperlinking to a Web site allowed without permission of the site's owner? LIMITED
Generally a search engine identifying sites and linking to homepages does not lead to copyright infringement. However deep linking, where one site contains a link to another at a particular page within its content may be regarded as copyright violation.
Are temporary or transient copies, incidental to a lawful use, excepted from copyright? NO
Temporary or transient copies are permitted if the act is “an integral and essential part of a technological process the sole purpose of which is to enable a transmission of the work in a network between third parties by an intermediary.” However, no case law on this issue has confirmed this interpretation. Also, s 17 of the 1988 Act stipulates that no transient or incidental copies may be made of software.
1988 Act s.28A, InfoSoc Directive Article 5(1)
Is caching of Web content permitted? LIMITED
The UK E-Commerce Regulations protect companies which cache copies of sites in the provision of their access services. The service provider will not be liable in damages (or other remedy or criminal sanction) where the caching is "automatic, intermediate and temporary for the sole purpose of providing a more efficient service". Adding to this the service provider must not modify the information and must comply with all access conditions imposed with regard to the website. This however means that it may be difficult to fall within this exception. Furthermore, many website copyright notices provide that the information may not be stored in an electronic retrieval system – which would in theory precludes those sites from being cached by ISPs for the provision of a more efficient service.
Are ISPs protected from liability for infringements by third parties, because the law either does not impose liability upon intermediaries or limits their liability in certain circumstances? YES
An ISP is not liable so long as it does not have actual knowledge of the illegal activity or information. The 1988 Act exempts "mere conduits" providers from infringing copyright and host service providers from liability to pay monetary compensation for infringements of copyright and other wrongful acts before being notified and required to take the material down.
E-Commerce Directive, InfoSoc Directive Article 5, 1988 Act s.31A
Do ISPs provide Internet access without conducting filtering or monitoring for potential copyright-infringing material? YES
There is no general obligation on service providers to monitor the information that they transmit or store, or to actively seek facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity. Also known as "the mere conduit" exception, ISPs are not liable for information transmitted on their networks provided they do not initiate the transmission, do not select the receivers of the transmission, and do not select or modify the information in the transmission.
ECR Article 12
Are the names and personal information of customers who are alleged to have engaged in copyright-infringing behaviour protected from disclosure by their ISPs? YES
An IP address in isolation is not personal data under the Data Protection Act, according to the Information Commissioner. But an IP address can become personal data when combined with other information or when used to build a profile of an individual, even if that individual's name is unknown.
Data Protection Act 1998
By content creatorsCan a recording or performance of a musical work be made under compulsory license from the composer? NO
UK law does not provide for compulsory licensing.
Can copyright works be non-commercially remixed or mashed up into new works? NO
UK law does no provide any general exception to copyright liability for private use. Hence much private use remains a wrongful act.
May computer software be reverse engineered for the purpose of creating interoperable software? NO
Reverse engineering – a person working back from a finished product to the copyright work which underlies it and then evolving a work of his/her own – can be an infringement of copyright. The 1988 Act prevents certain rights of software licensees from being excluded by contract. This includes: the right to decompile (or effectively reverse engineer) a program if it is necessary in order to operate with another program; and the right to observe, study or test the functioning of a computer program in order to determine the ideas and principles that underlie it. A defendant can not escape liability by showing that the copy was made by a third party if the third party acted in accordance with the defendant’s instructions. However there is also case law that established that redesign is not copying.
1988 Act s.50, Software Directive, Mothercare, Rose Plastics
Is the incidental inclusion of a work in other material permitted? YES
Copyright is not infringed by incidental inclusion in an artistic work, sound recording, film, broadcast and cable programme.
1988 Act s.31
Is there are copyright exception for parody or satire? NO
1988 Act
Is there a copyright exception for professional advice? NO
Research is commonly restricted to "non-commercial purposes" thus, for example, a lawyer copying something as part of legal research for his/her work on behalf of a client requires authorisation from the copyright owner.
1988 Act
Do creators who license their work retain the moral right of attribution? YES
Authors have the right of "paternity" and "integrity". These rights exist as long as the copyright on a work. The right to prevent false attribution exists until 20 years after the author’s or director’s death – creating the curious possibility of false attribution being lawful 20 years and one day after the death of the author or the director.
1988 Act s.86
Does copyright law contain provisions regarding traditional knowledge/folklore? NO
By the pressIs there a copyright exception for the news of the day? NO
In UK law there is no exception for the “news of the day” as defined by the Brussels version of the Berne Convention (Article 9(3)).
May copyright material be reproduced for the purposes of review and criticism? YES
The copying or use of any kind of work, including sound recordings, films, broadcasts and cable programmes for the purpose of ‘criticism and review’ is permitted. Fair dealing also allows for the performance of a work if accompanied by a ‘sufficient acknowledgment’, and provided that the work has been made available to the public.
1988 Act s.30(1)
May political speeches, speeches in judicial proceedings and/or other public speeches be used for any purpose? NO
With regards to parliamentary and judicial proceedings copyright is not infringed when reported on, “but this shall not be construed as authorising the copying of a work which is itself a published report of the proceedings.” The Crown (monarch) is entitled to copyright in every work made by the monarch or an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his or her duties. The Crown has waived its copyright for ministerial speeches, which means that although copyright is asserted, Government wishes to encourage the widespread use of the material under the condition that it is reproduced accurately and not in a misleading context, as well as being correctly acknowledged and the source and status of the material is identified.
1988 Act ss.45, 163
May quotations be used for any purpose? NO
The criticism and review provision of the 1988 Act does permit quotes. However it is not clear what the boundaries of “criticism” are and how much of the original work can be used for such a purpose. Case law indicates that lengthy extracts from the original works can be used where the purpose was purely to enable criticism to be made.
1988 Act s.30(1)
By LibrariesMay libraries copy works that cannot reasonably be obtained commercially? NO
1988 Act
May libraries copy works for users for the purpose of research or study? LIMITED
Broadly speaking "prescribed" libraries and archives may supply readers with a single copy of published library, dramatic or musical material for the purpose of private study or research, provided that the reader makes a signed declaration to that effect and pays a sum not less than the cost attributable to producing the copy.
1988 Act ss.37–44, CCM, SI 1989/1212
Is the reproduction of unpublished works by libraries permitted? YES
Archivists and librarians may make or supply a copy in whole or in part of a literary, dramatic or musical work from a document in the library or archive if certain conditions detailed in the act are satisfied.
1988 Act s.43
Are libraries allowed to make preservation or archive copies of materials in their collections? YES
Librarians or archivists may make copies for the purpose of preserving or replacing a works by placing the copy in their permanent collection, or in order to replace the works in the permanent collection of another library or archive a work that has been lost, destroyed or damaged. This permission is restricted to cases where it is not reasonable practicable to purchase a copy of the work.
1988 Act s.42
By disabled usersIs it permissible to copy or adapt work for the use of those with disabilities? YES
The InfoSoc Directive permits “uses for the benefit of a people with a disability, which are directly related to the disability and of a non-commercial nature, to the extent required by the specific disability”. The 1988 Act provides for designated bodies to make copies of broadcasts and issue them to the public with sub-titles for the deaf and hard hearing, or otherwise modified for the special needs of those physically or mentally handicapped in other ways. The 1988 Act was supplemented by the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 which allowed the making of accessible copies for the personal use of such a person, provided that he or she has lawful possession or use of a "master copy" of the work which is accessible as a result of impairment.
InfoSoc Directive, 1988 Act s.74, VIP
In public affairsAre laws excluded from copyright? NO
The Crown (monarch) is entitled to copyright in every work made by the monarch or an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his or her duties. The monarch is entitled to copyright in every Act of Parliament, Act if the Scottish Parliament, Act of the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. However, the Crown has waived its copyright for UK primary and secondary legislation, which means that although copyright is asserted, Government wishes to encourage the widespread use of the material under the condition that it is reproduced accurately and not in a misleading context, as well as being correctly acknowledged and the source and status of the material is identified.
1988 Act s.163
Are other governmental works excluded from copyright? NO
The Crown (monarch) is entitled to copyright in every work made by the monarch or an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his or her duties. The Crown has waived its copyright for the following works: public records; government forms (blank forms); the national curriculum material of England; Government press notices and press notices issued by the Scottish parliament; national curriculum material for Wales; acts of the Scottish Parliament, explanatory notes to acts of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish statutory instruments; government consultation documents; Scottish national curriculum documents; information on official websites unless otherwise stated; ministerial speeches and articles; and headline statistics.
1988 Act s.163
Is there a copyright exception for use of material in judicial proceedings? NO
The Crown (monarch) is entitled to copyright in every work made by the monarch or an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his or her duties. The Crown has not waived its copyright for material in judicial proceedings.
1988 Act s.163

Freedoms to share and transfer

May copyright works be freely offered for commercial rental? NO
Generally the owner’s copyright does not preclude subsequent dealing with copies, but since the 1988 Act and the subsequent amendments as a result of the Rental Right Directive certain forms of subsequent dealing are no longer permitted. S 18A(1) of the 1988 Act specifies that rental or lending of copies to the public is an act restricted by the copyright in the work. Rental is defined as “making a copy of a work available for use, on terms it will or may be returned, for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage”. The test case for "lending" is whether the lending establishment is accessible to the public. Hence lending a DVD or book to a friend is not copyright infringement.
1988 Act s.18A(1), RRD
May a person in lawfully possession of a copyright work distribute, communicate or make it available without reference to the copyright owner? NO
Most permitted acts or fair dealings in UK law, such as criticism and review, require “sufficient acknowledgment”. Generally the "playing or showing" of sound recordings, film, or broadcast in public is an infringement of copyright as per the 1988 Act.
1988 Act s 19(3)
May works be dedicated to the public domain without legal formality besides an overt act of relinquishment? NO
“Overt act of relinquishment” is not recognised in UK law.
Are orphaned works treated differently in the law to other copyright works, for example by allowing them to be compulsorily licenced, limiting remedies, or by releasing them into the public domain? NO
Is parallel importation permitted? NO
The Intellectual Property Office treats this area as a “policy issue”. In 1999 the Trade and Industry Select Committee considered parallel imports in their report on Trade Marks, Fakes and Consumers. In 2001 the UK and Swedish governments published a survey of international price comparisons. This showed that consumers across the EU would benefit from reform of trade mark laws. The 1998 European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment in the Silhouette case established the basis for parallel imports (also see the European Directive on Trademarks (89/104/EC)). It set out that trade mark law does not create rights to control imports between Member States of goods already placed on the market in the EU.
Are there incentives for the use, production and dissemination of free and open source software within copyright law or elsewhere in national law/policy? NO
Are there incentives for the use, production and dissemination of open access material (e.g. textbooks) within copyright law or elsewhere in national law / policy? NO

Administration and enforcement

What is the maximum penalty for copyright infringement for an individual? If the whole or a ‘substantial part’ of a copyrighted work is used without license and none of the exceptions (permitted acts or fair dealings) apply, copyright is said to have been infringed. The UK Intellectual Property Office encourages rights holders to resolve copyright infringement cases with the other party and if that is not possible seek alternative solutions such as mediation. If a copyright infringement is heard in court, the courts can: stop that person making further infringing use of the material by granting an injunction, award the copyright owner damages, and make the infringing party give up the goods to the copyright owner.
What is the maximum penalty for copyright infringement for a corporation? The UK law does not distinguish between individual infringement and corporate infringement.
Is registration of copyright required before it may be enforced in court? NO
Copyright is a form of property under UK law which comes into existence with the creation (fixation) of its subject matter. Unlike patents, trade marks or designs, no registration is required. The main test for copyright protection in the UK is fixation and originality. UK copyright law generally protects the ‘expression’ of work, not the idea.
Is there a distinction between personal versus (large-scale) commercial use? NO
Copyright violation is dealt with as “primary restricted acts” and “secondary infringement”. The law identifies some commercial infringement of copyright as secondary infringement but primary restricted acts do distinguish between commercial and non-commercial infringement. Secondary infringement is the “dealing in infringing copies of a work, e.g. selling, importing or exporting or exporting copies made without the licence of the copyright owner.” Secondary infringement requires that the infringer should know or have reason to believe that he was dealing in infringing copies. They are also typically carried out in “the course of business”. Claims of secondary infringement are typically made with regards to commercial piracy. In this respect UK law is substantially different from US law, which provides a general fair usei exception and takes into account whether the use is of commercial nature or for non-profit educational purposes.
1988 Act
Is the creation or distribution of devices that can circumvent technological protection measures (TPM) permitted, where such devices can be used for purposes that would not infringe copyright? NO
Where copies of a copyright work were issued to the public in an electronic copy-protected form the copyright owner has a secondary infringement claim against a person dealing in any device specifically designed or adapted to circumvent the form of copy-protection employed, or publishing information intended to enable or assist persons to circumvent that form of copy-protection. The Software Directive 1991 also provided that there should be appropriate remedies in national legislation against a person acting in such ways.
1988 Act s.296, Software Directive
Is the use of such devices by consumers permitted for any purpose that would not infringe copyright? NO
Tensions exists in UK law where TPM prevent persons from carrying out permitted acts or fair dealings under the 1988 Act (i.e. use of copyrighted material that does not require a license from the copyright owner). In this case of certain permitted acts (such as making a copy available to a visually impaired person) an application may be made to the Secretary of State (i.e. the relevant Government Minister), who may issue written directions to the copyright holder, which the latter must comply with.
1988 Act
Does national copyright or consumer protection law require disclosure to consumers of the existence of TPMs and any potential limitations on the use of TPM-protected material? NO
Are the operations of copyright collectives subject to public oversight? NO
Is any portion of the revenues of copyright collectives set aside for benevolent purposes? NO
Are copyright collectives precluded from using their revenues for political lobbying? NO
Is copyright enforced only through mechanisms provided by law, rather than through private intermediaries? YES
Although the UK Intellectual Property Office advises rights holders to resolve copyright infringement cases with the other party and if that is not possible seek alternative solutions such as mediation. Copyright owners are also advised that “one of the many organisations representing copyright owners may also be able to give you advice, or, if you are a member, sometimes act on your behalf.”
Is the enforcement of copyright restricted to civil or private law, rather than attracting criminal sanctions? NO
Deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale may be treated as a criminal offence or civil offence.
Are damages for copyright infringement based on the loss sustained, rather than by a preestablished or statutory damages award? NO
Not in law. The award of infringements already perpetrated may well be based on a royalty for each infringement or loss sustained by the copyright owner through the defendant’s competition. The 1988 Act permits a judge to award "additional damages" in a civil case concerning an infringement of copyright or other rights covered by the 1988 Act. The phrase is unusual in English law, with other legislation more commonly referring to exemplary, restitutionary or aggravated damages.
1988 Act
Is there provision to penalise the wrongful allegation of copyright infringement? NO
However UK common law punishes what is termed “perverting the course of justice”. Aggravating and mitigating factors include: the nature and number of offences, whether premeditated or spontaneous, degree of persistence, arrest of innocent person, any impact upon prosecution. Specific examples include: Threatening or interfering with witnesses, concealing evidence and false allegation of crime resulting in arrest of innocent person.


UK copyright law is substantially different from that of other countries. It is generally very restrictive. Copyright is treated as property right (copyright violation is treated as “tortuous invasions of property") and hence copyright owners have the right to decide whether and how the copyrighted work is used. Also, UK copyright law does not protect ideas, it protects “works”.

The UK is a common law country and member of the EU, hence copyright law draws on a variety of sources (EU directives have been incorporated into UK law in a variety of ways) as well as case law. Where the statutory (written) law is not clear, case law is the authoritative source of law. UK copyright statutes are drafted as general principle – as a “conduit pipe” that is relatively uncomplicated in language, but more or less indeterminate in scope - hence its interpretation, application and enforcement may be subject to change and there are a number of issues, especially digitally related, where it is not clear how existing statutory law will be interpreted by the courts. The major statutes relating to copyright have been subject to substantial revision in the last two decades.

There are no fair use exception in UK law, only some limited permitted acts. There is no provision that may be termed “private copying” exception and UK copyright law does not distinguish between private or corporate copyright infringement. However private infringement is generally treated as a civil offense, where commercial infringement may be treated as civil or criminal offense. It is not clear how large scale non-commercial infringement is treated. Non-profit or private use are generally not a mitigating factor in UK law.

A copyrighted work can have more than one copyright, or another intellectual property right attached, e.g. a  music album can have separate copyrights for individual songs, sound recordings, artwork, etc.


The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (1988 Act) protects aesthetic and artistic works, including literacy, musical and dramatic work – known as original works – as well as derivative works such as films, sound recordings, cable programmes, broadcast and the typographical arrangement of a published work. Copyright has been expanded to protect new and emerging forms of works, such as computer software and databases. Copyright protection arises on the creation of a protectable work, hence there is no need to register the right. The Registered Designs Act 1949 protects designs, i.e. the way in which a commercially produced article “looks” and/or “functions”. Design protection overlaps with copyright protection of artistic work and hence the 1988 Act also covers some design protection. The Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulation 1997 was incorporated into the 1988 Act.

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