What’s new copycat?

There is no copyright symbol on the questionnaires I use in my time management course so it must be copyright free, right?

Probably not: Under UK law, copyright is a natural right and does not have to be registered or marked with the symbol.

I believe it’s OK to copy a couple of pages from text books to use in courses. After all, everyone else I know does it.

That’s very naughty. If you photocopy copyrighted work for use in training courses, then you should have a licence to do so from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), or permission from the copyright holder(s) or permission from a recognised subscription agency, such as the British Library.

 Who’s to know? It’s not as if the copyright police are on the prowl.

The CLA and publishers actively police copyright breaches and every delegate is a potential informant.

If you get caught, an apology and few quid in a charity box will do, won’t it?

Hardly. Under the 1988 Copyright Act, breach of copyright can be a criminal offence. In 2001, Centrica paid 20m to the Ordnance Survey for breach of copyright on maps in an out-of-court settlement.

Surely if the breach is inadvertant and innocent then that’s OK?

Innocent infringment is a defence but the claimant is still entitled to an account of profits, which can run to thousands of pounds.

But it must be fine to use a couple of sentences from a copyrighted work in a training document?

Arguably – as long as you give the name of the source publication and the author(s).This is known as fair dealing.

I’ve got a great idea for a training book or video. How do I copyright it?

You can’t. There’s no copyright on ideas, but trademark the title.

I’ve created lots of training programmes. If copyright is a natural right then surely I own the copyright?

That depends: if you created them at work, then your employer owns the copyright. If you did them at home in your own time, then you will own copyright.

How long for?

For written work and illustrations and photography copyright lasts for the lifetime of the creator, plus 70 years.

Well at least I’ll be able to use Shakespeare’s works.

Probably, but the design and layout of a work gives the publisher a 25-year typographical arrangements’ copyright.

There’s always the internet.

Indeed there is but copyright law applies as much to works on the web as to those published in hard copy.


Copyright Licensing Agency: www.cla.co.uk

British Library: www.bl.uk

Heron: www.heron.ac.uk – Heron handles copyright issues for publicly-funded institutions

Trade Marks Bureau: www.trademarksbureau.co.uk


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