All of the arts are creative expressions of the human mind and are expressed visually, through writing, through sound, through movement, in 3D and in multimedia format. All of these expressions of the human mind are called works and include paintings, poems, novels, drawings, photos, plays, choreography, sculptures, movies, computer games and buildings.

All artistic work comes from the expression of an author’s emotions, interpretations and feelings and undoubtedly add to the quality of our lives. Cultures and civilizations are often defined by the art work they leave behind and cities are often styled according to the creativity of individuals such as Gaudi and Eiffel. The creative arts provide us with direct links to history through cave paintings and hieroglyphics. They also provide a major economic input to society in the present day.

Copyright protects a wide range of works including written works, musical works, artistic works, dramatic and choreographic works, films and multimedia products and computer programs.

Copyright does not protect ideas or facts rather it protects how the idea is expressed. For example five artists asked to paint a picture of an aeroplane crash will all paint their own interpretation using their own creative imagination. Each author will be entitled to copyright protection for their specific expression of the general idea of an aeroplane crash in the form of their specific painted visual image. It is the expression that makes the work original.

The only condition for copyright is that the work is original namely it is not copied from another work. It requires a degree of independent skill and labour to be expended on behalf of the author. Copyright protection does not depend on artistic quality so that a finger painting by a child has the same copyright protection as a Nobel laureate’s novel. Copyright protection is automatic and comes into existence upon creation of the work. The copyright symbol © is inserted as a reminder that a work has copyright protection often followed by the author’s name and the year of creation.

The Berne Convention provides commensurate rights to copyright holders in over 160 signatory countries throughout the world.

Copyright protection gives the owner the right to prevent a third party from reproducing, adapting, translating, exhibiting or performing in public, distributing , broadcasting or communicating to the public the protected work without their permission. The Berne Convention ensures a minimum copyright term of 50 years from the end of the year in which an author dies but European Union countries and the United States provide a term of 70 years for certain copyright works.

We can provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of copyright protection. We can advise on the best way to record copyright and we can also assist in the enforcement of copyright should the need arise.

Copyright law is complex and requires specialist advice in relation to the specific situation. Please contact our office for further details.

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