Copyright Solicitors & Copyright Law

To speak to an intellectual property solicitor about copyrighting, call us today on 0333 323 5292 or fill in the enquiry form on this page and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

What is Copyright?

Copyright gives the owner the right to prevent certain acts taking place without their permission in relation to the work that is protected or any substantial part of it, such as:

  • Copying
  • Issuing copies to the public
  • Renting or lending to the public
  • Adaptation (including translation)
  • Performance in public
  • Broadcasting

Copyright works are owned by their authors, and all their authors if more than one, except where they are produced by an employee in the course of his/her employment or have been produced under an agreement that assigns the rights to another. With some exceptions, the copyright will last for 70 years following the death of the author (or, in a collaboration, when the last of the authors dies).

Most countries in the world subscribe to the Berne Convention, which offers reciprocal enforcement provisions, meaning there is effective worldwide protection for copyright, all without the need for registration. However, some important jurisdictions such as the USA and China do require registration of copyright, and if these are a major area of interest it is worth considering those requirements carefully.

The Team

Because of the way copyright comes into being without registration, it can be difficult to control. For instance, if a third party such as an agency or contract worker creates work for a business, they will remain the copyright owner in their work even after it has been paid for, and the business will have only at best a licence implied by law, unless the right contracts are in place.

The best route to a sound copyright strategy is to have internal standard contracts and management systems that identify and capture all the rights required. Our team members have extensive expertise in this area, having acted for many years for major organisations whose business model is based on copyright works and their exploitation. The team advises constantly on all facets of copyright law, from commercial exploitation to infringement proceedings.

Types of Copyright

Any original work that is recorded in the appropriate medium, whether on paper, in a computer file or in a sound or video recording, which is created by someone who qualifies under the relevant legislation (that is, just about anyone), is immediately protected by copyright where it is:

  • a literary work (such as original writing, song lyrics, text of any kind, software code or some databases, the latter being relevant to websites and apps);
  • an artistic work (such as graphics, photography, artwork, design sketches, sculptures, works of craftsmanship and some design models some of which are relevant to websites and apps);
  • a dramatic work (such as a drama, a dance piece, a script for film, TV or radio, or for any piece that can be performed);
  • a musical work (such as original music, the music for a song with a separate lyric, a musical arrangement or other arrangements of sounds);
  • a film (such as a film of any length, a video of any kind, an animation or animated sections of games);
  • a sound recording (whether a record, a voicemail message or recording of any kind of audio);
  • a broadcast (whether by a recognised broadcaster or by way of a website or in any other format or medium).

The treatment of computer software programmes as copyright works gives rise to the need for a licence to run the programme as that involves a copy of the programme or a substantial part of it being made in the device running the software.

Exploitation of Copyright

One issue that causes much conflict and confusion is that what copyright protects is the work, not the ideas set out in the work. Sometimes, the dividing line between the two, often referred to as the difference between the idea and its expression, is clear and sometimes not. But the basic rule is simple: an idea in itself is not protected.

The ways in which copyright works are exploited are boundless; the media, software and online industries rely to an immense extent on the control and exploitation of copyright works. Without copyright works, there would be no publishing, music or advertising industries, no film or TV companies, no Microsoft, Facebook or YouTube. Even outside these industries, every business that has a website is now a publisher, whether it thinks of itself in that way or not, and probably a broadcaster as well.

Authors’, performers’ and moral rights

While not strictly speaking intellectual property rights, these allied rights are important for writers and performers. They give to those involved in creative activities the right to control to some extent the way in which their work is presented or exploited independently of the copyright ownership.

For example, an author is entitled to be identified as the author of a work even if he/she has disposed of the copyright. Likewise, there is the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work, and to object to the false attribution of a work.

Performers have an extended set of rights, split into non-property rights, which cannot be bought or sold and include the all-important right to control who may record a performance, and property rights, which go deeper towards being commercial rights relating to the exploitation of recordings and which can be transferred. These rights are essentially based on the objective of avoiding where possible the commercial exploitation of recordings and films of performances, which take place without the consent of the performer or in a way that confers no benefit on the performer.

Beyond their obvious importance to those industries that are based on authors and performers, these rights can have importance in a number of other commercial contexts. Just as most businesses are now publishers and broadcasters without thinking of themselves in that way, so many of the people they employ and contract with are (whether they know it or not) also performers and authors, for instance, in the context of video capture of lectures and events, and these rights must not be forgotten.

Our team has worked extensively with both artists and organisations on the issues that can arise in connection with these rights.

Relevant publications by team members

Valuation and Exploitation of Intellectual Property and Intangible Assets, by John Sykes, co-author. (Emis).

Brands: Law, Practice and Precedents, by Clive Lawrence (Jordans Publishing)

Sports Business: Law Practice and Precedents, by Clive Lawrence, co-author (Jordans Publishing)

Sport: Law and Practice, Clive Lawrence, contributor, 3rd Edition (Tottel)

Getting in Touch

If you have intellectual property that needs protecting and you think copyright might be the answer, contact John Sykes or Clive Lawrence using the details on the enquiry form to discuss your needs.

Lupton Fawcett are a leading personal and commercial law firm in Yorkshire with well-established offices of highly experienced solicitors in Leeds, Sheffield and York.

We provide a personalised service, with sector specialists and extensive resources to ensure we are giving you the best solutions to your problems.

Our Intellectual Property Solicitors act regularly for clients across the United Kingdom including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, York and Nottingham.  We also provide specialist niche legal and commercial services for Irish companies wishing to do business in the UK and legal advice for UK companies trading in the  Republic of Ireland

As recognised Copyright Solicitors we can support your needs wherever you live in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Why Choose Lupton Fawcett?

Having advised and supported many local families, individuals and businesses, we are proud to offer clients a dedicated service from specialist solicitors who are experts in their field:

We're Award Winning

Multi-award winning - Yorkshire Team of the Year, Regional Employment Team of the Year, Employment Law Lawyer of the Year

We're Connected

We're connected to the people, businesses and infrastructure throughout Yorkshire

We Put You First

You can be sure to expect superb client service from us. Our clients are our priority

We're Your Law Firm

Your problems are real but how we approach them makes all the difference

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use the trade mark notice ™ on my marketing and advertising materials and packaging even if I have not registered my brands?

Yes.  The trade mark notice ™ indicates that your brand, whether it is a word, series of words, symbol or logo is being used by you as a trade mark and you should use the trade mark notice to maximise your protection.

If I apply for a Community Trade Mark and there is a problem in one country which means that I cannot or do not want to proceed in that country can I still get a registration for the rest of the EU?

No. A Community Trade Mark application is for all or nothing. If you have a problem in one or more member state of the EU you will lose the application and will need to start again by applying in each member state in which you want protection.

If I have sold my branded goods in the EU can I stop them from being resold by one of my customers via particular distribution channels such as discount shops or on eBay?

It depends! Generally it is not possible to prevent how your products are dealt with once they are sold in the EU. If you can show that you have a valid reason for managing your distribution channels and have in place an active distribution channels policy then it may be possible. This is a complicated area of the law and it may be worth you having a conversation with one of our lawyers to explore your options.

If I have already sold my product can I still apply for registered design protection?

Yes you have 12 months from the first sale or marketing of a new product to get registered design protection.

If I have no registered design protection and a competitor is copying my designs can I stop them?

You may be able to stop them if your design is less than 10 years old and is not a commonplace design. This is a complicated area of law and requires careful consideration. John Sykes has just updated his reference book for lawyers on Design Law and John, or one of the team would be happy to advise you.

Be careful because making a threat to a competitor may be grounds for the competitor to bring proceedings against you for “groundless threats”. A threat would include making a complaint to eBay or Amazon to take your competitor’s products off sale.

I have shown my invention to my friends in the pub and they think I should get patent protection for it. Can I get a patent?

Not unless:

  • your friends were bound by terms of confidentiality because you cannot get patent protection for an invention which has been disclosed AND
  • your invention is new AND
  • your invention is capable of industrial application

If you want to show your ideas to third parties whether friends or potential customers or manufacturers you MUST HAVE A CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT in place.  If the answers to the above questions are all “yes” then speak to us about getting patent protection.

I told my friend to keep my idea for an invention secret. I think he is working on building a business to exploit it. Can I stop him?

Only if you have a patent application in place which successfully proceeds to grant or he has copied an original material work you created or own. So, for example, if you built a prototype or created drawings of your invention and your friend has copied these.

You could issue proceedings for breach of confidence but this is a difficult claim to bring if there is only your word against his and he may not be “good for the money” and/or you do not want to spend the monies required on legal action to get an injunction and any other legal remedies to which you may be entitled.