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What is copyright?

Copyright is typically an automatic right which arises as soon as a ‘creative work’ is created, although it is possible to register copyright in some territories, such as the US and China. This ‘creative work’ can take many forms, from designs of logos and video recordings, to computer software code.

The right typically exists for the life of the creator plus a certain number of years, depending on the type of work and the territory in which it is protected. The scope of protection of the rights arising from copyright is typically narrower than those of registered IP rights, such as trade marks, so it is best practice to register IP where possible to complement copyright and ensure a broad scope of protection.

The owner of the copyright is usually the author of the work unless, for example, as is the case in the UK, the author created the work as an employee. Care should be taken to ensure that ownership of the work is assigned where an external agent has created the work.

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