UK Copyright FAQs for Publishers

Frequently asked questions about copyright law for publishers

Here we answer some frequently asked questions about copyright law and how it applies to publishers and content users in the UK. We focus mainly on the written word but do also cover some associated areas.

Copyright is a complex area, so these answers provide very general guidance and should not be relied on as legal advice. We will not be liable for any reliance on the information in this document. If you have any doubts about anything, or have a specific query about copyright and your content, you must seek legal advice.

Part one: Definitions and Basics

  1. What does copyright cover?
  2. What is copyright?
  3. What is copyright for?
  4. Who owns it?
  5. Can there be more than one owner of copyright?
  6. How is ownership of copyright transferred?
  7. How is copyright created?
  8. Does it need to be registered?
  9. How long does copyright last?
  10. How can you tell if something is protected by copyright?
  11. What are moral rights?
  12. Is copyright an international or domestic law?
  13. How is copyright law infringed?

Part two: Reusing Copyright Content and Obtaining Permissions

  1. When is consent needed to use copyright protected content?
  2. How are rights granted?
  3. What information is needed?
  4. How long does it take to obtain consent for use of content?
  5. Are images and illustrations subject to copyright?
  6. What fee, credit or acknowledgement is needed?
  7. How can rights holders be found?
  8. Can authors grant consent?
  9. Is there any support for permissions requests?
  10. I think the content I want to use is not subject to copyright. Can I go ahead?
  11. Where can I get more help with copyright issues?

Part Three: Exceptions and Complications

  1. When can content be used without permission? What is ‘fair dealing’?
  2. How much of a work can be copied without infringing copyright?
  3. What if content has been adapted?
  4. What if content has been translated?
  5. Can content on the internet be freely used without permission?
  6. What does ‘in the public domain’ mean?
  7. What is a Creative Commons Licence?
  8. What happens if I can’t find a copyright owner?