Designs & Copyright

How do I copyright something?

Copyright is an automatic form of protection. When an original work such as a literary, musical or dramatic work is created, copyright will protect that original work.

There are no formalities, such as registration, payment of fees or placement of a copyright notice, required in order to claim copyright protection. However, it is good practice to use a copyright notice to indicate that copyright is claimed in the work and identify the owner and the date (year) the work was made.

Copyright arises under national laws rather than a single international copyright system. However, there are a number of international treaties (to which most countries are part) that enable copyright protection overseas. All of the treaties in general require two things:

  • minimum standards of protection; and
  • protection of materials from all of the countries that are parties to the treaty (‘national treatment’).

National treatment means that each member country gives the same rights to the nationals of other treaty nations as it gives to its own nationals under its own laws. So, original copyright materials created in one country are also entitled to the protection given in other countries which are members to the treaties.

The treaties also require automatic copyright protection. Some countries, such as the United States, also have a system for registering copyright. In these countries, it may be advantageous to register the copyright, such as for easier enforcement, but it is not essential to do so.

Wilson Gunn can advise on all aspects of intellectual property protection. Please get in touch to speak to a member of our team about copyright protection.