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Help! How can I register my copyright?

Mar 8, 2012

We are regularly approached by potential clients who enquire: “How can I register my copyright?” or “Can you help me copyright my book?”. The good news for these potential clients and others of you out there is that if you create an original piece of work which “qualifies” for copyright, whether it be a literary (written); dramatic; musical or artistic work (and see below*) then copyright subsists immediately upon creation.  

There is no registration requirement to achieve the protection under the laws of copyright in the UK unlike for other of the intellectual property rights such as patents, trade marks and registered designs and so there is nothing to be done initially to ensure you have ‘copyright’ in a piece of original work. 

A book which is an original piece of work has copyright subsisting in it upon its creation without taking any further steps.  

It is highly recommended however that there is some evidence which points to the date of the creation of the work.  If a piece of work is created on a computer such evidence is fairly straightforward as there will be a record of the date of entry in the computer; for other types of works keeping a log of what is created and when is a sensible idea, as is taking digital photographs of artistic works which are not held on computer. 

Keeping a record of the date of creation is important in the event that you wish to allege that a third party is infringing your copyright or in the alternative if you wish to rebut an allegation that you have infringed a third party’s copyright.  

It is also advisable (where possible) to use a standard phrase such as:  

“© Waterfront Solicitors LLP, 1 March 2012. All rights reserved”.   

This statement has a copyright notice ©, the name of the owner of the copyright, the date of the creation of the work and the final sentence which states that you are withholding your rights to the fullest extent possible by law and consequently that you are not granting any rights to copy your work.  

*copyright also applies to sound recordings, films or broadcasts and the typographical arrangement of published editions.

Need copyright registration advice? Contact our copyright lawyers today.