May 17, 2018
Numerous businesses and individuals deal with documents, content and other products that are subject to copyright and intellectual property law on a daily basis, but very few employers or their staff actually have a significant amount of knowledge surrounding what these phrases actually mean. However, both are very important matters and should be given due attention, whatever one’s profession or specialisms. Legal experts Prosperity Law count both copyright and intellectual property law among their specialisms, so here’s what they think you ought to know about both, along with some answers to common questions on the subject.
What is Copyright?
To reduce copyright to its simplest form, one could say that it is “the exclusive right to create copies”. “Exclusive” is an important word here, as it is usually one entity – be that a company, an individual or an estate – that owns the rights to a product or creation.
Copyright is subject to a time limit, however, and this limit varies depending on the type of work that is covered. For literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, UK copyright law states that no one else will have the right to make copies, license or exploit a work until seventy years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work has died. If an author is anonymous, the seventy years will begin at the end of the calendar year during which the work was created, or was first made available to the public (if it was released before the year’s end). The same rules are applied to film, while sound recordings are covered for fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was created, or seventy years from the end of the calendar year in which it was first released. For a typographical arrangement of a publication, the copyright lasts for just twenty-five years, while a broadcast or cable programme is covered by copyright for fifty years following the end of the calendar year in which the broadcast was made.
The rights to various products and creations can be legally sold if another entity wishes to take control of them.
As you can see, the laws surrounding copyright are very varied and complex, so it’s important for you to inform yourself in detail of your rights and permissions when using any publication, or when creating work or products of your own.
What is Intellectual Property?
“Intellectual property” is actually an umbrella term that includes copyright within the fields it covers. Others include patents and trademarks as well as trade secrets and licenses on occasion. Anyone who practices intellectual property law will be well-versed in copyright law too.
Can You Own Intellectual Property?
Absolutely. The word “property” itself suggests something that is exclusively owned, so all intellectual property counts as the legal possession of its creator. The names of products or brands, the design or look of a product and all kinds of inventions and creations are covered by intellectual property. To ensure that you own a piece of intellectual property, it firstly has to be unique and created by you (though intellectual property can have multiple owners, including businesses). Unless your creation is physical and visible, it is not covered. An idea alone does not count as intellectual property – it needs to take shape in the “real world” before it can be protected. You can also legally purchase intellectual property or businesses.
Do Copyright Laws Protect Intellectual Property?
This actually works the opposite way around. As explained earlier, copyright forms a part of intellectual property law – meaning that intellectual property law protects copyright. Copyright protection is automatic and free. You are not required to apply for it and it takes effect immediately. A patent or license, on the other hand, is something that an individual or company must apply to at a cost.
For further information about legal issues surrounding intellectual property and copyright, Prosperity Law should be your first port of call. The firm also specialises in commercial litigation, commercial property, corporate law, employment law, media and entertainment law, sports law, taxation disputes and transport law. They are experienced in dealing with high net worth clients and businesses, so professionalism and discretion is guaranteed. Just call their Manchester, Rochdale or Liverpool centres today on 0161 667 3697, 01706 659 666 or 0151 958 0057 respectively, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Prosperity Law’s highly trained specialists will be more than happy to assist you and provide advice.