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Monday Myths: Do I have to register copyrighted material?

This is the first in my series of “Monday Myths” blog posts. These have the sole aim of clearing up some of the more common myths surrounding intellectual property that we come across on a regular basis.

Whether or not you have to register copyright to either confirm its existence, or, your ownership of the copyright is a question we are commonly asked.  Thankfully, the answer is pretty simple!

Firstly, if you are unsure as to exactly what I mean when I talk about copyright, take a look at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/c-essential.pdf for a bit of background information on what copyright is. Also, have a look at the UK IPO’s website (www.ipo.gov.uk) for information on the other forms of intellectual property that you are likely to come across.

Moving on to the question in hand, in the UK, along with many countries throughout the world, there is no need to register copyright for it to be protected.  So long as the work fulfils the minimum requirements to be classed as copyright (pretty much, it must be original and must have taken some effort to produce) then protection is automatic.  Simple.

That said, there are a number of companies operating within the UK that purport to offer copyright registration services in exchange for a fee.  In short, the main use of these services is as evidence of the date of creation/lodging of the copyright in question.  This may be useful in the case of a copyright infringement claim but will certainly not be definite and does not guarantee success (whether bringing a claim or defending one).

It is also worth bearing in mind that there are some countries (America being one) where, whilst there is no requirement to register copyright to own it, in the event of a copyright infringement claim the owner will only be entitled to statutory damages if they have registered their copyright with the relevant government body (take a look here for the USA’s copyright register: http://www.copyright.gov/).

Next week, I’ll take a quick look at the use of the © symbol.

In the meantime, as always, please get in contact (whether by commenting below or by emailing or phoning me) if you have any intellectual property questions.

Until next time.  


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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