By June Hedges, on 14 October 2011
Increasingly we are being asked how individuals can assert or register copyright in their work. Assuming that you are not publishing with journal or book publisher (or on a recognised web site, etc.), you will retain all rights in your work. In the UK there is no need to register copyright. This is because it automatically arises as soon as a work is recorded in a perceptible format, e.g. a written manuscript, a photograph, work of art, etc.
You may want to identify a work as your own by using the standard copyright symbol © followed by your name and the date the work was created. You may also want to consider applying a Creative Commons Licence to your work to make it clear what types of re-use you will permit.
Commercial services to register copyright do exist. However these services will make a charge to do something that UK Legislation does for creators automatically. The Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society do provide some suggestions of how you might want to ensure that you have proof that you are the creator of a work should there ever be any legal issues: http://www.alcs.co.uk/Authors–rights/All-about-copyright/Registering-copyright
By June Hedges, on 7 July 2011
Yesterday we received a query from a colleague wanting to use an image from the film Apocalypto (2006) to illustrate their research on a departmental website. Making use of a still from a film in this way does require permission from the copyright owner as it involves republishing the image on a public site and so is not covered by fair dealing exemptions relating to criticism and review. The issue with this query was more how to track down the rights owner to obtain the permission.
The film was made by Touchstone Pictures, which is part of the Disney. Much searching of the Disney website turned up only a general email contact for press related enquiries, to which a speculative email was sent, and a postal address for the Disney Rights in Burbank, California. Much to our surprise a response arrived from the Clearance Administrator for the Walt Disney Company advising that rights to the film were owned by Icon Distribution, so a request was made to them for permission and we await their response.
Along the way though, I discovered a very helpful resource for tracing rights for US materials: http://cocatalog.loc.gov And a great deal of information about US copyright on the US Copyright Office webpages: http://www.copyright.gov/
By June Hedges, on 1 July 2011
Yes, this query is made up. But we wanted to start this FAQ/Copyright blog with an entry that outlines what happens when a query does arrive and how we work to find an answer.
We ask for as much detail as possible for a reason, almost every case is unique and we will sometimes consult with other copyright advisors or copyright bodies to seek further opinions or clarification. It is useful then to have all the specific details to hand.
Unfortunately, we do often come back with a negative. Legislation has been slow to catch up with technology and how education is exploiting this. So the kind of use that we would like to make of materials is often simply not permitted legally without permission.
Once we receive your query we will be in touch (usually by email) within a couple of days, hopefully with an answer or to advise you that we need to do some more research or pass the query on to be dealt with.
All our advice comes with the familiar disclaimer: “our advice is based on local expertise and widely adopted best practice. Neither these pages, not any advice provided by UCL Library Services staff constitute legal advice”.
We will also be anonymising queries to add to this blog to build a bank of FAQs for other colleagues to refer to. If you would rather we didn’t then please let us know.