Key point: A right to prevent reproduction of an original literary, artistic, musical or dramatic work for 70 years beyond the death of the author.
Copyright is, as its name suggests, a right to prevent copying of an original work. Copyright comes into being upon the creation of an original artistic, musical, literary or dramatic work. Because copyright is only a right to prevent copying of the original work, there is no absolute legal monopoly and copyright cannot therefore be used to prevent the independent production of an identical or similar work.
The term of copyright protection in the UK is, from 1 January 1997, 70 years from the death of the original author of the work.
Copyright arises on a national basis in the country in which the original work is created but may be enforceable internationally by virtue of the Berne Convention or Universal Copyright Convention.
In some countries, copyright can be used to prevent unauthorised application of the original work to a manufactured article and thus similar protection to that given by unregistered design right in the United Kingdom is afforded. However, there are exceptions to this, notably in the United States of America.