Copyright is automatic and does not need to be registered, however for written work an author can include a copyright legend ©, the date of creation, and their name as an added protection.
The duration of copyright differs depending on the medium of the work.
This legislation applies to work created on or after 1st August 1989. When the copyright period expires a work can be copied freely and is considered to be in the public domain. A work is covered by the copyright law of the country in which it was first published or performed.
Copyright protection advice from UK Copyright service
Exceptions to copyright
These exceptions are sometimes described under the heading ‘Fair Dealing’. Fair dealing exceptions do not apply when copyrighted work is included in a publication.
If a work is published (this includes posting to an institutional repository), permission must be sought from the copyright holder. For electronic publishing, where copyright cannot be obtained, copyrighted material may be removed and added to appendices that are not published.
Who owns copyright?
The author or source of a work is the first owner of copyright unless that work is created in the course of employment, in which case the first owner of copyright may be the employer. An employment contract can state that the author retains rights as the first owner of copyright.
Section 12.2 in Section 12 - Copyright from, University of Dundee: Guidelines on Research and Service Contracts, Institutional/Private Consultancies, Patents and Commercial Exploitation through Licensing and Spinout Company Activity by University of Dundee
Except where specifically provided by agreement between the Court and the member of staff concerned, the Court does not claim copyright in books, articles for learned journals or works of fine art (i.e. paintings and sculptures.
All taught postgraduate and undergraduate students retain their own IPR relating to any work they undertake whist attending university. Although there may be cases where individual assignations to the university are appropriate in order to comply with the conditions of a grant.
What do I need to know?
How to go about obtaining permission to use copyright protected work
Agencies that operate licensing schemes
If the copyright owner does not respond to a request or cannot be located, then you have not obtained permission and legally you should not reproduce the work.
Should you decide to take the risk of copying an orphan work you are advised to document evidence of due diligence in your efforts to contact the original rights holder.
Due diligence involves all three of these actions:
Such evidence would not necessarily protect against prosecution – copying without permission is an infringement of copyright. Further guidance available from the Intellectual Property Office: Copyright: orphan works.
Intellectual property with commercial potential
Lambert Toolkit is for collaborative research projects between universities and companies.
Web2Rights has a host of useful guides, sample letters, and templates for diagnosing copyright issues and gaining permissions. They include information on contracts and employment, Freedom of Information, Data Protection, and Third Party Copyright.