Text Box: Prepared with the inclusion of material from The Publishers Association


Does my work have to be published to be protected?

Publication is not necessary for copyright protection.


When is my work protected?


In Britain, you hold the copyright for your work as soon as it is written down - you do not need to apply for copyright or register your work with any organization.

Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

 The only exception to this is when you are writing as part of your employment - for instance, if you are a journalist working for a newspaper. Copyright lasts for 70 years after the end of the calendar year in which an author dies.



Can I copyright my ideas?


There is no copyright over ideas - so always get an idea down in writing. Similarly, there is no copyright over titles, although you could be accused of "passing off"  if you used a well-known title for your own work.

If you are concerned about proving that you are the copyright holder of an unpublished work, you can post a copy of your manuscript to yourself and keep this, unopened. The postmark will provide proof that you wrote the work by a certain date. Or you can deposit a copy of your manuscript with a bank or solicitor (get a dated receipt).


What is a copyright notice?

A copyright notice is an identifier placed on copies of the work to inform the world of copyright ownership. You are strongly advised to place such a notice on your work, in a clearly visible form, which should consist of the word: Copyright, The mark: ©, your name, and the year. For example: “Copyright © Your Name 2005”.                             


With A few Words:  

Copyright Matter on Quotations


In practice, the copyright issues relating to quotations are not as straightforward as one  might think. Among other things which need to be considered, The amount of the quote, the purpose of it,  and in where it will be used always play a very definitive role before an informed decision on the subject is achieved.

For example, a critic or a journalist working/specialising  on that relevant subject, will would need to make references to the work in order to do their jobs properly. But neither of them will be expected to make their quotations much longer than their work necessitates. If those quotes pours out of the confines of evaluation or news,  and ends up damaging the author’s/publisher’s otherwise possible financial gains, then the author/publisher will almost certainly look for a lawyer.

On the other hand, [according to the 1988 CDPAct s.32],  an instructor is allowed to copy relative  material -within reason- as part and for use of his/her teaching subject, (reprographic process).

And, under no circumstances, you're allowed copy material from any work in a way, scale and content which will cause an infringement of "moral rights".


Therefore,  a “case by case” approach seems to be the best available option when dealing with quotations. However, it is starkly certain that a quotation must not cause the  rightful owner of that work (author and/or publisher) a loss of income and/or must not look like that you’re trying to make money out of their work. 



It is therefore highly advisable that you should get in touch with the publisher (or the one who holds the rights) in order to obtain such a permission.  This may involve a charge. However, in some instances, you may be allowed to  quote -within reason-  as long as you insert the due  references to the original work and its author. As said before, it has to be done case by case.  




                  Copyright in the US


Do I have to register with US Copyright Office in order to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created  (like in the UK). You may find it valuable to  register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. (Circular 1, section Copyright Registration, USA)

 When will I get my certificate?

The time the Copyright Office requires to process an application varies, depending on the amount of material the Office is receiving. You may generally expect within approximately 6 months of submission (8 months in the case of Visual Arts claims) a certificate of registration

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Many of those who choose to register their works  wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in the cases of successful litigations. Additionally, if registration occurs within five years of publication,  it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. (Circular 1, section Copyright Registration Circular 38b on non-US works)

US Copyright Office Mailing Address:

The Copyright Office,
Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E.,
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000.

The telephone number to order application forms is (202) 707-9100. TTY is (202) 707-6737.

 The Public Information Office telephone number

                                                                           (202) 707-3000



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