Five steps to Copyright success!


Potentially valuable Intellectual Property (IP) is generated on a daily basis; the text you are reading right now was automatically protected by copyright as soon as it was committed to paper (or a digital version of).

Have a think about how many things you write down, draw or photograph every day – these are all automatically protected by copyright. In some instances these materials may have much wider application that could offer benefit to others and that could even attract a financial reward or kudos for the creator.

Our five-step guide to copyright was designed to help creators of such copyrighted materials get due credit for their creation and control how it is used, modified and shared.

  • Is my work protectable by copyright?

Copyright protects the way ideas are expressed or recorded rather than ideas themselves; whilst often a visual creation (such as a photograph, written/typed document, video or drawing), copyright also applies to sound recordings and software code. Importantly, copyright law also protects adaptations of the way you have presented something, however it does not stop people being inspired by your idea and coming up with their own way of expressing it. Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works lasts in the UK for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years, whereas broadcasting and sound recording rights last for 50 years.

  • Who owns the copyright in what I have created?

Copyright is either owned by individual people that have created the works or an organisation that is a legal entity, such as an NHS Trust, University, charity or company. Under standard law, IP that is created during the course of employment usually belongs to the employer; this can be confirmed by checking employment contracts and IP policies.

  • How do I exert my (or my employer’s) rights?

Copyright does not need to be formally registered and is automatically granted upon creation of the works. However it is good practice to express ownership through a copyright statement such as “copyright © owner name, year”.

  • How do I share my work?

Copyright protection implies “all rights reserved”, which means that users need to ask permission from the copyright owner if they want to copy and/or share it with others in any way. Therefore it is useful to include contact details of a person or department that has authority to decide what permissions can be granted. Creative Commons is a legal framework to grant certain rights to users, also known as “some rights reserved” without specific permission being sought.

  • Can I use copyrighted work belonging to others?

When using or adapting copyrighted materials belonging to anyone else, permission must be sought (ideally in writing) regardless of whether a copyright statement is displayed and attribution should be cited. Various websites offer ‘public domain’ images where the creators have waived their rights, but always check the specific terms attached to any image or license.

Medipex are very happy to advise our members on any aspects of IP generation, protection and usage, so please just get in touch.


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