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Copyright protection is given to original works and arises automatically upon their creation. Traditionally for a work to be an ‘original work’ the work must have originated from the author by his skill and labour. The amount of skill and labour required is fairly low and there is no need for the work to achieve any form of literary or artistic merit. The categories of works that are capable of being protected include literary works, dramatic works, musical works, artistic works, films and broadcasts. The works which are normally most relevant to commercial activities are literary works (which includes computer programmes, books, manuals and databases). Copyright permits the author of a work to object to (and in turn to have the exclusive rights) in relation to specific uses of a work, to include, reproduction (copying), making available, renting or lending, performing, communicating to the public and adapting. A third party who, without the author’s/copyright owner’s permission, undertakes any of these acts in respect of all or a “substantial part” of the work will infringe copyright in the work. Aside from these traditional exclusive rights of a copyright owner, an author also has “moral rights” with respect to a work.

These are rights which are exclusive to the original author of a work. They include the right to be identified as the author of the work and the right to object to any denigration or derogatory treatment of the work (to include distortion or mutilation).

Copyright protection for literary works in the UK and Ireland is generally for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. However, certain copyright works, for example, broadcasts, are only protected for 50 years.

Effect of Brexit on Copyright:

While the UK remains in the EU, UK copyright laws will continue to comply with the EU copyright directives. The continued effect of EU Directives and Regulations in the UK post-Brexit is not yet clear. However, the UK is a member of a number of international copyright treaties and agreements, which will continue to be the case following Brexit.

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