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[FYI] "Why Copyright Matters"


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Why Copyright Matters

Industries relying on copyright protection are now more important to
the UK economy than drinks and tobacco, energy, electrical
engineering and cars industries, says Jill Durdin of the Copyright
Directorate at The Patent Office.

Copyright plays a vital role in the British economy. Industries that
are substantially dependent on copyright employ up to 1.3 million
people in the UK, and are responsible for up to 6% of GDP. Some
industries, such as publishing, software, recorded music, film, video
and broadcasting, could not exist without copyright protection.
Others, such as advertising and fashion rely heavily on it.

The electronic information services and products industry is vitally
dependent on copyright and is worth over £2 billion a year to the UK
economy. This is significant when UK electronic publishing firms have
80% of the EU market for on-line services and products.

The music industry alone achieves domestic sales of over £1 billion a
year, employs 50,000 people and is a substantial earner of foreign
exchange, earning a net £570 million each year, similar to the recent
overseas earnings of the UK steel industry.

Though copyright is important to the nationís economy, the public do
not always understand the part that they have to play. Every time a
musical or artistic work is illegally copied or a musical or dramatic
work performed without permission, the copyright owner loses the
royalties. This leads to creative talent being stifled as the artist
may fail to receive the potential amount of payment that they are
entitled to and record companies may not recoup their investment.

Industry is being challenged to keep up with technology to protect
its copyright. The music industry have been trying to respond to the
threat posed by Internet companies illegally uploading music onto the
web to be downloaded by web users. It is starting to use encryption
and watermarking to prevent the illegal copying.

As a form of Intellectual Property, copyright stands out from others
because it is automatic and you do not register it: You do not have
to complete any forms or pay any fees. When you write a piece of
literature or produce one of the many other forms of work covered by
copyright, such as music, web sites, films or computer programs you
immediately own the copyright. However copyright can be very valuable
and you still need to think carefully about taking steps to protect
your intellectual property. It is important that you understand what
your rights are and how the copyright system works.

If you are the author of the material you are normally the first
owner of the copyright, although if you produced the work as an
employee the copyright may belong to your company or organisation,
but like other forms of property, copyright can be transferred. For
sound recordings, the copyright belongs to the record producer; with
broadcasts, to the broadcaster; and for printed editions, to the
publisher. The creator of the copyright work will often have the
right to be identified on his work, and to object to mutilations and

To prove that you produced the work at a particular time, it may be
sensible to deposit a copy with a bank or solicitor. Alternatively
you can post a copy to yourself by special delivery, so that it has a
clear date stamp, and keep the envelope unopened which might help to
prove that the work existed at that time. Although the copyright
symbol ©, is optional in the UK, you may find using it is helpful,
and it is a good idea to apply it to each page on web sites, together
with the name of the copyright owner and the year.

As the owner of the copyright your rights cover the copying,
adapting, issuing, renting, lending, uploading to the Internet,
performing or broadcasting or inclusion in a cable programme service
of the material. With the UK the signatory to several international
copyright conventions, material originating in the UK is normally
automatically protected overseas - and work originating overseas is
similarly protected in the UK.

If on the other hand you wish to use work protected by someone elseís
copyright, you must obtain their permission and agree any payments
with them. However very limited use of copyright material for
research and private study, criticism or review, reporting current
events and teaching in schools may be possible without infringing

If you are unlucky enough to end up in a dispute it is sensible to
try and resolve the issue with the other party first. Failing this,
as a copyright owner who feels your work is being infringed you can
go to court and seek an injunction, damages and/or an order to
deliver up the infringing goods. If the goods involved are coming
from outside the European Economic Area HM Customs & Excise can be
asked to stop them. Deliberate infringement of copyright on a
commercial scale may be a criminal offence.

Bear in mind that the period covered by copyright protection varies
depending on what kind of work it is. For literary, dramatic, musical
or artistic work copyright expires 70 years after the death of the
author, but it is generally only 50 years from release or making for
sound recordings and broadcasts and 25 from publication for published

For more information on copyright in this country and
internationally, visit The Patent Office website at www.patent.gov.uk
or contact the Copyright Directorate on 020 7596 6566.

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