Protection of copyright

Protection of copyright

Businesses should take the following practical steps to identify and safeguard copyright works:

  • Identify all materials that are likely to have copyright protection. These include: drawings; design specifications; reports relating to the manufacture of goods; brochures; sales literature; and packing designs relating to advertising and sale of goods.
  • Ensure that the business is the owner of the work. In each case, this involves identifying the authors of the relevant work and ensuring that ownership and licensing arrangements are clear. If any of the materials have been commissioned from third parties, ensure that appropriate copyright assignments and waivers of moral rights were included in the written agreements that commissioned the materials. If the necessary assignments and waivers were not included in those agreements, arrange for separate copyright assignments and waivers to be obtained from the third parties.
  • Keep proper records of the results of the steps set out in the first and second bullet points above. Authors should sign and date their works and, where relevant to the term of copyright, the date of first marketing of articles should be recorded. These records can then be used as the basis for any infringement action. Actions can fail if the claimant cannot prove subsistence of copyright or ownership. Records may also be invaluable in defending any claim for copyright infringement. Evidence that a work was created before the work alleged to be infringed is a powerful defence.
  • Apply a copyright notice, i.e. "Copyright © [NAME OF COPYRIGHT OWNER] [YEAR OF PUBLICATION]". Although this is not necessary as a matter of law to gain protection, it is a useful notice and warning to anyone using the work that copyright exists and that action may be taken if the work is copied.

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