Commons:Copyright rules by territory/United Kingdom

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COM:CRTUK
Location of United Kingdom

Summary

Countries, areas, and entities Standard copyright term
(based on authors' deaths)
Other copyright terms
(based on publication and creation dates)
Copyright exemptions Notes


Commons-logo.svg United Kingdom copyright overview
(Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Copyright law of the United Kingdom)
70 p.m.a.: life + 70 years Crown copyright:
  • 50 years from first commercial publication, but
  • works except engravings created prior to 30 June 1957: 50 years from creation

Anonymous works

  • Photographs created before 30 June 1957: 70 years after creation if unpublished, 70 years after publication if published within 70 years of creation

Posthumous works

  • Non-photographic works, published posthumously before 1945, where author died 20 years or more before publication: 50 years after publication
  • Berne/UCC: yes
  • Until year end: Yes
{{PD-old-auto|author died 1943 or earlier}} {{PD-UKGov}}
{{PD-UK-unknown}}
{{PD-EU-no author disclosure}}
{{PD-EU-unpublished}}
{{PD-UK-posthumous-non-photo-1996}}

{{FoP-UK}}

United Kingdom Overview

As with the rest of the European Union, the basic copyright term in the United Kingdom is life of the author plus 70 years. (The author must be a natural person and cannot be a corporation.) There are a number of variations on this however. Works in the United Kingdom fall into two categories for the purposes of copyright duration: government works and non-government works. The former are covered by Crown copyright and Parliamentary copyright and their special duration rules and the latter by ordinary copyright duration rules.

Crown copyright

Crown copyright works have a basic term of protection of 50 years from date of commercial publication. For Crown works created before the entry into force of the Copyright Act 1956 on 30 June 1957 other rules apply. Crown copyright photographs created prior to 30 June 1957 have a copyright term of 50 years from creation. Published Crown copyright engravings created prior to 30 June 1957 have a copyright term of 50 years from commercial publication. Unpublished Crown copyright engravings of the period come out of copyright at the end of 2039. Crown artistic works other than engravings and photographs created prior to 30 June 1957 have a copyright term of 50 years from creation.

Further special rules apply to Crown artistic works created between 30 June 1957 and the entry into force of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 on 1 August 1989. Published engravings created in this period are still out of copyright 50 years after commercial publication. Unpublished engravings created in this period come out of copyright at the end of 2039 as before. Published photographs are out of copyright 50 years after publication. Unpublished photographs come out of copyright at the end of 2039. Other artistic works come out of copyright 50 years after creation.

For a summary of these times see the flowchart at [1].

Crown copyright sound recordings are much more simple. Copyright expires 50 years after creation unless the work is commercially published during that period when copyright expires 50 years after first publication.

The Ordnance Survey OpenData licence has been designed to be compatible with Creative Commons BY 3.0 and appears to be okay.

Some works published from 2010 are available under the UK Open Government Licence which is meant to be compatible with the CC BY 3.0 licence. See {{OGL}}.

Parliamentary copyright

Parliamentary copyright was created by the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 and its duration rules are the same as for Crown copyright materials created after 30 August 1989.

Copyright on sound recordings

If the source material is out of copyright, sound recordings leave copyright after 50 years from first publication. Plans are underway to extend this to 70 years.

Ordinary copyright

For ordinary copyright works the largest distinction is between those with a known author and those with a pseudonymous or anonymous author. There are also distinctions in copyright term between artistic works and sound recordings. The commencement dates for the Copyright Act 1957 and the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 are also crucial. For a summary of these rules see the flowchart [2].

The rules for ordinary copyright sound recordings are the same as for Crown copyright sound recordings.

Known author

If the work was created after 30 August 1989 and has a known author copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author. If the work was photograph with a known author taken before 30 June 1957 then copyright also expires 70 years after the death of the author. If the work is a non-photograph artistic work with a known author which was created prior to 30 August 1989 then several scenarios can apply:

  1. If the work was published during the author's lifetime then copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author.
  2. If the work was published before 30 August 1989 and the author died more than 20 years before publication then copyright expires 50 years after publication.
  3. If the work was published before 30 August 1989 and the author died less than 20 years before publication then copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author.
  4. If the work was not published before 30 August 1989 and the author died after 1968 then copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author.
  5. If the work was not published before 30 August 1989 and the author died before 1969 then copyright expires at the end of 2039.
Unknown author
Main page: Commons:Anonymous_works#United_Kingdom.

If the author is unknown then the basic time period to bear in mind is 70 years. If the work has an unknown author and was created after 30 August 1989 copyright expires either 70 years after creation or if during that period the work is made available to the public 70 years after that. If the work is a photograph with an unknown author taken before 1 June 1957 then copyright expires 70 years after creation or if during that period the work is made available to the public 70 years after that. If the work was created before 1969 with an unknown author then several scenarios can apply:

  1. If the work was published before 30 August 1989 then copyright expires 70 years after first publication.
  2. If the work is unpublished and was first made available to the public after 1968 then copyright expires 70 years after the work was first made available to the public.
  3. If the work is unpublished and has never been made available to the public then copyright expires at the end of 2039.
  4. If the work is unpublished and was first made available to the public before 1969 then copyright expires at the end of 2039.

Typographical copyright

If scanning a copyright-expired work from a British publication, typographical copyright must be borne in mind. This subsists for 25 years from creation of the publication and covers the typographical arrangement of the publication. It does not exist in the United States.

Publication right

One related right to copyright that must be borne in mind in the United Kingdom is publication right. This applies to ordinary copyright works but does not apply to Crown copyright works. If the copyright of an unpublished work has expired (virtually impossible before 2040) then the first publisher of that work is entitled to publication right over that work. Publication right has the same rules as copyright but only lasts for 25 years. It does not exist in the United States.

Database right

If scanning material from a publication from 1982 or later database right must also be borne in mind. This right normally lasts 15 years from creation or substantial amendment of the database. Many books count as databases due to their systematic arrangement of information. Under transitional provisions works created from 1982-1997 are also covered by database right until the end of 2012, ie 15 years after the passage of the original legislation. It does not exist in the United States.

Exceptions to copyright

Freedom of panorama
Main page: COM:FOP#United Kingdom.

As with many other countries the UK defines an exception to copyright infringement for artistic works on public display. Section 62 of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 states that it is not an infringement of copyright to film, photograph, broadcast or make a graphic image of a building, sculpture, models for buildings or work of artistic craftsmanship if that work is permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public.

Threshold of originality
Main page: Commons:TOO#United_Kingdom.

Some works are not original enough to be eligible for copyright protection. The level of originality required for copyright protection in the United Kingdom is very low.


Further reading

References

See also

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