Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Copyright law

Reading today's followup on The Da Vinci Code plagiarism saga, I thought I'd transcribe the part of it that deals with the definition of "copyright". A useful reminder to some bloggers out there who wrongly claim their blogs's material to be protected by copyright.
Copyright is an old established principle of English law dating back to the Statute of Anne in 1709 and was codified in the original Copyright Act of 1911. Current UK copyright law is laid out in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and gives "the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the right to control the ways in which their material may be used".

To justify copyright protection, a work has to be regarded as original and show "a degree of labour, skill or judgment". Under the law, the creator has economic control of the exploitation of their work and the right to be identified as the author and to object to distortions of their work.

According to the UK Copyright Service, an "idea for a book would not itself be protected, but the actual content of a book you write would be". Someone else is still entitled to write their own book around the same idea, "provided they do not directly copy or adapt yours to do so".

Copyright for literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works end 70 years after the last
remaining author of the work dies.
--Duncan Campbell

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