Brief history of the UK Copyright Service

The establishment of the service

In early 1999 the UK Copyright Service was conceived as a result of concerns about the quality of copyright evidence and a general lack of direct government provision.

Although at that time Stationers’ Hall was regarded as the UK’s central copyright registration office, it was felt that significant improvements could be made. The registration facility provided by Stationers’ Hall was in fact closed in February 2000.

Following a 15 month period of legal consultations, planning and development, including input from a range of legal and business specialists, the UKCS officially opened its doors in April 2000. Since then it has taken up the role of providing a centre for intellectual property registration in the UK.

Originally use of the service was restricted to resident UK citizens (hence the name UK Copyright Service), but it now accepts registrations from all over the world.

The creation of Copyright Witness

The UKCS grew rapidly between 2000 and 2004, and over this period also received growing interest from international copyright owners. In the summer of 2003 a significant investment and infrastructure development programme was initiated and this lead to the creation of Copyright Witness Limited in April 2004.

Due to increasing internationalisation, and harmonisation of universal concepts of copyright, governed by international treaties and conventions, it was now appropriate that the service developed to a fully international level. The change of company name and status was designed to encompass its growing international obligations, and provide a platform to service authors on a more integrated worldwide level. This brought benefits to both the UK Copyright Service and its clients in the future, as the service continued to develop.

To provide continuity and minimise confusion, the UK Copyright Service (UKCS) name is retained by Copyright Witness Limited primarily for its UK clients whilst the Copyright Witness brand focuses on international copyright owners.

Bringing the service to a new standard

In 2004 the main website was re-launched and all the companies systems were moved to dedicated self hosted servers in preparation for the launch of the online registration facilities.

2005, saw the launch of new, high security, online registration facilities offering virtually unlimited upload sizes. It also saw the launch of the registration update facility that provides an economical option for clients with work that is subject to a high rate of change, (for example web developers). We also added a number of additional servers to our secure online network to support our updated services, provide additional bandwidth, and ensure very high reliability.

February 2007 saw the launch of online registration renewals, (this was previously only available by postal reminder), and has also added online ordering for replacement certificates, registration notice labels and duplicate works. There was also a ‘face lift’ to the website, along with a few more information and advice pages. We also improve the online registration systems, by providing additional information, streamlining the application process and introducing 3D security checks for added payment security.

In 2009 we became a marketing partner of the British Library and also sponsored the Marie Curie Daffodil Theatre Awards.

During 2010 work started on the design and development of new systems that will be used to take the service forward in the future. The whole process is expected to take serveral years as our development team work to create the software and infrastructure required to replace our back office systems and provide a more integrated service for our clients.

March 2012 saw the launch of a new Copyright Witness website for our international clients.

November 2016 saw the launch of a new internationally focused copyright information site: International Copyright Service.

Our goals

Since the outset, the aim has remained simple and clear:

‘To provide secure, affordable and effective independent evidence of copyright ownership’

This statement still forms the cornerstone of our philosophy today, and thousands of individuals and companies across the globe continue to benefit from the real peace of mind that comes from having solid evidence available to back up their rights.