How do I protect my work?
Copyright protection is automatic under international law, but in the event that your work is infringed evidence may be required to support your claim. It also helps to deter infringement (particularly from those who do not understand copyright) if you make it clear that your work is protected under copyright law. So ensuring the best protection for your work relies on several factors.
There are four simple steps you can take that can help ensure your work is safe.
- Ensure your work is properly marked.
A correctly worded notice will deter infringement, as it states that the work is protected under law.
Although a copyright notice is not required, (work is automatically subject to copyright protection under law), displaying a notice shows that you have an awareness of copyright and take infringements of your work seriously.
For information on how to word your notice, please see our fact sheet P-03: Using copyright notices.
- Register your work.
If your work is infringed and your claim to copyright is disputed (i.e. in a plagiarism case - where the other party claims the work is theirs), you may need evidence to help prove your claim.
This valuable evidence can be provided by our copyright registration service that provides verifiable proof of the date and content of your work. As specialists in this area, we ensure that you have the very best evidence to support your rights, while our service policies ensure that the evidence is always available when you need it.
For information on registration, please see our fact sheet P-04: Registering copyright work.
- Keep or register supporting evidence.
Supporting evidence falls into two categories:
- Evolution of ideas
This is evidence of the progression of the work. Early drafts, synopsis, rough recordings, sketches, etc. are all evidence that the work progressed over time, rather than being copied from elsewhere. Although it is possible to fake such evidence, it is often time consuming to do so, so it can be fairly good evidence to demonstrate that you created the work from scratch over a period of time.
- Footprints or watermarking
This is normally evidence inserted into finished documents that will identify the author in some way, such as deliberate mistakes, or hidden data that can be read using special applications.
For more details see our page on supporting evidence.
- Evolution of ideas
- Agreement between co-authors.
If your work is a joint venture, be sure you know exactly where you stand, who will own what rights, and what happens when someone leaves.
For more details, see our page on agreements between co-authors.