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What is UK Copyright Law?

The current statute that deals with copyright law is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Rights covered

The legislation gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works; sound recordings; broadcasts; films etc rights to control the ways in which their material may be used. Such control covers broadcast and public performance, copying, adapting, issuing, renting and lending copies to the public.

Copyright is an automatic right and often arises whenever an individual or company creates an original work.


Normally, the author will own the work. However, if work is produced as part of employment then the employer will normally be the first owner. Just like any other asset, copyright can sold or transferred.

Duration of Copyright

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 sets out the duration of copyright which varies according to the type of work.


It is an offence to copy or adapt the work; rent, lend or issue copies of the work to the public; or perform, broadcast or show the work in public without the consent of the owner.

The author of a work may also have certain moral rights such as the right to be identified as the author.

This should not be relied upon for legal advice. If you would like any further information or advice please email

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