Further copyright protection tips for your work

Fact sheet P-06: Copyright protection advice

Issued: December 2003
Last amended: 9th December 2015

Further copyright protection advice for clients who have registered work with the UK Copyright Service. This fact sheet describes points of interest and further action that may be of additional benefit to protect copyright work.

  1. Introduction  

    Now that your work is registered, it will benefit from the excellent independent date and content proof that our registration provides.

    This means that in the event of any infringement of your rights, you have access to the very best evidence to support your claim.

    You should however take time to review the following information as it may reveal additional points to check, or steps you can take, that will give additional protection your work and deter would-be infringers from stealing your work.

  2. Maximising protection

    To ensure maximum protection we advise all our clients to:

    • Mark all work with a copyright notice
    • Include a notice that the work is registered with the UK Copyright Service
    • Keep or register supporting evidence and updates.
  3. Notices  

    The notice states that copyright applies to the work, and may help to deter infringement.

    At least one notice should appear on your work, though if the work is in many parts, it is best to mark each part separately; in some instances, (e.g. web sites), the notice may even appear on every page. If the work has a separate cover, then you should mark the body of the work as well as the cover or sleeve.

    For electronic images it is often not appropriate to place a notice directly onto the visible image, in which case you should ensure that the properties of the file state that copyright applies to the work. For most image editors, this can be accessed via the File menu, Properties option.

    The notice should take the form of:

    • The actual term ‘copyright’.
    • The symbol ‘©’.
    • The year.

      Normally this is the year of publication, for unpublished work use the year the work was created.

    • The name of the owner, (this can be an individual, collective or organisation).

      e.g. ‘Copyright © 2015 Joe Smith’

    • For sound recordings you should also include a notice for the sound recording itself, using the phonogram copyright symbol symbol to denote the copyright of the sound recording.

      Tip: On most computers the phonogram copyright symbol symbol can be found within the webdings font.

  4. Extending your notice

    You may also include a statement after the notice. This should state the terms under which the work may be used and provide information relating to what you regard as a breach of your rights.

    The standard recommended statement for most work is ‘All Rights Reserved’. It simply means that you are not willing to release any rights to the work except any that are explicitly described in law, (some educational or reporting use is normally allowed without permission).

    There are occasionally circumstances where it may be advantageous to allowing some limited actions that would normally be considered a breach of rights. If you wish to allow certain acts in relation to your work, your statement should be worded appropriately to clearly state what is acceptable and what is not permitted.

    For more information, please see our fact sheet P-03 Using copyright notices.

  5. Notice of registration

    Displaying a notice that the work is registered with UKCS is a deterrent against infringement, by displaying the notice, you demonstrate that you are aware of your rights, that you take your rights seriously, and that you have very strong evidence with which to pursue a case if your work is infringed.

    The notice would normally appear next to or below the standard notice and state. "This work is registered with the UK Copyright Service." You may also include your registration number if you wish.

    The complete wording now reads:

    Copyright © 2015 Joe Smith. All rights reserved.

    This work is registered with the UK Copyright Service. Reg.No:123456789

    Registered images for your work can also be obtained from our registered notices page

  6. Registering updates to your work

    The registration update facility is used to register updates to your work. This enables you to include any new content in the registration, whilst still retaining the original registration date, and evidence of the original content of your work. Updates processed using form F-08 or the online update facilty are linked with your existing registration, and protected from the date we process the application.

    Please note that the update facility is only used to add or update files in an existing registration. You should use the standard registration facility for new registrations.

    Examples of use:

    • If your work is not complete at the time of registration:
      1. For example a synopsis may evolve into a manuscript which may in turn need several re-writes. In this case, updates may be used to provide protection for new versions of the work without the need for a new registration.
      2. If you are a photographer, or greetings card designer you may need to add items to a particular range or series.
    • If the work is continually evolving:
      1. For example a web site may be continually updated. In this example it would be appropriate to register timely updates whenever there has been a significant change to the site, or whenever you publish new content which you believe may have commercial value.
      2. Periodicals and magazines: Each edition will typically contain new content that may be registered as an update.
  7. Supporting evidence

    Supporting evidence falls into two categories:

    • Evolution of ideas

      This is defined as evidence that the work progressed over a period of time, rather than being copied from elsewhere, and normally takes the form of development work such as: Background research, draft versions, rough sketches, first recordings etc. Although it is possible to fake evolution of ideas evidence, it does require a certain amount of effort to do so, so as evidence it is fairly good.

      Development work can also be submitted for registration, this means that you can have the same level of evidence to demonstrate evolution of ideas as you do for your other registrations, and also have the assurance that if you lose or discard your original development work, UKCS can provide a duplicate if it is ever required.

      Further evolution of the work may be registered using the Form F-08 as discussed previously.

    • Footprints or watermarking

      You can also insert supporting evidence into finished documents. Footprints are deliberate mistakes or hidden elements that will be known only to you. A typical example would be the software designer who includes redundant subroutines that identify the author in some way. Watermarks are algorithms embedded inside a file which can be read by special readers, they are particularly relevant to image files.

  8. Common questions
    1. What if my work changes, do I need to register it again?

      Updates may be made to your existing registration, the section above ‘Registering updates to your work’ explains this.

      This is recommended where the work has significantly changed, or if you feel there is some sensitive nature, or commercial value, to the updated work that requires additional safeguarding.

    2. Can I register development work before I have a finished product?

      Yes, you can register a work in progress in the normal manner. This would also be an occasion where a registration update should be considered for the finished product.

    3. What if I need to pursue an infringement case?

      We can be called on to provide evidence to support any claim or case you make. This will typically take the form of providing copies of your work and confirmation of registration dates to validate your claim.

      If you believe that your work has been infringed you would normally pursue your case with the guidance of your solicitor. Our fact sheet P-05: Copyright infringement is also available, and explains the procedure to follow.

    4. How can I extend the registration period?

      At the end of the registration period we will automatically contact you, and you will be offered the chance to extend the registration at a discounted rate. It is also possible to extend any registration with less than 5 years remaining using the online registration renewal form..

      To ensure that our records are up to date, you should notify us of any change of address or other contact details. You can notify us either via the form available on this web site, or by post to our Registration Services department quoting your account number.

    5. What if I sell or transfer my work?

      The new owner of the work is likely to also want to transfer the registration. To arrange this you need to complete Form F-04 - Transfer of registration. This form is also available on request from our Registration Services department.

    6. Do I need to register my work in other countries?

      As copyright is an automatic international right, with 164 states signed up to the Berne Convention world-wide and 181 signatories of WIPO/Paris/Berne Conventions, there is normally no need to make further applications.

      The purpose of the registration is to provide independent verification of your work; additional registrations would merely duplicate the same information, and provide no additional cover.

      The only exception to this would be for work by US citizens, who in order to file a claim in a US court, are required to register with the Library of Congress. This rule only affects US citizens.