Copyright registration - Frequently asked questions

Common questions about copyright registration

What can be registered

  1. What types of copyright works can be registered?

    Any type of literary, artistic, dramatic,musical or design work. Examples include; documents, music, web sites, software, designs, logos, artwork, illustrations, paintings, photographs, scripts, books, manuscripts, poems, films, plays and TV programmes... More examples.

  2. Can names be registered?

    Names are not copyright items, and would not benefit from registration.

    We will however accept registrations of items such as logos, which combine names with artistic/design elements, as these may be regarded as artistic or design works which are covered by copyright. This also provides evidence to say that you were there first, which may be of some benefit in defending your right to a trading name. You should also consider registering any commercially valuable documents you create under that name, (leaflets, flyers, advertisements, etc).

    It may be possible to protect a company name and mark as a trademark, for more information on trademarks you should contact your national patent office. Please also see the page dealing with names, titles and copyright for more details.

  3. If I register the company name, will this protect all work we produce?

    No, the registration covers the work that is submitted with the application, it is not possible to provide evidence for items not yet created, as copyright does not exists until the work is in a tangible form (i.e. recorded or written down). Additionally the company name is not itself a copyright item, (though we do accept logos).

  4. Should someone working for a company still register?

    If you are an employee and have produced the work during the course of your employment, then the company you work for will normally hold copyright on that work, you will have no personal claim to the work, (unless a written assignment of copyright has been agreed to the contrary).

    It is however worth checking that the company has the work registered for its own benefit.

  5. I am a sole-trader, should I enter my name or the company name as the copyright owner?

    A sole trader is a private individual who runs a private business in his own right. Unlike an incorporated company (which can hold assets in its own right), being a sole trader means that legally you are the business. This means that you are personally the copyright owner, and your name should be registered as the owner of the work.

    There is of course nothing wrong with clarifying the business aspect of the project, so if you want to include the trading name, this is perfectly fine. For example: “Ben Smith T/A ‘ACME Import’”

  6. Can I just send a description of my work?

    No, we require a full copy of the work. The registration covers items submitted with your application, it cannot provide protection for work not included at the time of registration.

About the cover

  1. Will my work be protected across the world?

    Yes. Copyright itself is an automatic international right and it is recognised across the world. As our registration provides independent verification of your work, we can provide evidence to support your case anywhere in the world.

  2. What if the work is later divided into smaller parts and published separately?

    The registration covers all items submitted with the application, it makes no difference how the work is later used, and it does not matter if only parts are published. The registration will provide evidence to support all individual elements, just as it does the entire collection.

  3. What happens at the end of the registration period?

    At the end of the registration period we will automatically contact you, and you will be offered the chance to extend the registration at a discounted rate. It is also possible to extend any registration with less than 5 years remaining using the online registration renewal form.

  4. Do you accept registrations from outside the UK?

    Yes. Copyright is an international right, and we are able to accept registrations from all countries. There are certain notes that US citizens should read.

  5. What form does the evidence take?

    We provide a copy of the work, (normally in an CD/DVD format), as evidence of the actual content at the time of registration. This may be posted to you, your solicitor, or the judge or tribunal hearing the case.

  6. My work is already in dispute, is it too late to register?

    As registration provides evidence from the date of registration, it is designed to help in future disputes. Please ensure any outstanding issues are resolved prior to application. You should ideally register as early as possible, before your work has a chance to be infringed.

  7. Can I just add works as I want over the 5/10 years?

    To ensure proper evidence of your work, every submission must be processed as a separate entity. The registration covers the work that is submitted at the time you register. Any new work you produce would need to be submitted as a new registration, and would be charged accordingly.

  8. Can I submit updates if my work changes after registration?

    You can of course submit updates to your work, but to ensure the integrity of evidence, this must be through the formal update procedure as explained in our registration updates fact sheet.

Miscellaneous

  1. Do I have to register my copyright work?

    No, registration is optional, but does have benefits: By registering you ensure that there is a verifiable record of the content of your work as it existed at that point in time. This can be valuable evidence if your ever need to prove your copyright claim (i.e. in an plagiarism case).

  2. Should I include a copyright notice on work that I send to be registered?

    The copyright notice itself is a statement of ownership and intent, it is not part of the work itself. In fact the work is still subject to copyright even without a notice.

    It does not matter if you include a copyright notice on the copy that you send for registration, as this copy is store confidentially and only exists to prove the date and content of your work.

    We do however recommend that, wherever possible, you place a notice on any copies of your work that you make available to others. Please see our fact sheet P-03: Using copyright notices for further guidance.

  3. Why not just post a copy of the work to myself?

    Posting to yourself is better than nothing, but is very poor evidence as it is so easy to falsify the contents. More...

  4. Why don’t you offer shorter registration periods?

    There are two reasons for this. Firstly a fair part of our work happens at the start of the registration, so although there would be some reduction in ongoing management/maintenance costs, a shorter registration period would not be as cost effective for our clients.

    More importantly, before any infringement case is pursued, we would expect suitable time to elapse to allow the infringement to happen, be discovered by the copyright owner, and reasonable negotiation to have failed. This all takes time and means that shorter registration periods would have limited benefit.

    It typically takes some time to exploit the potential of a work, and a shorter period would typically not give the creator of the work enough time.

    For clients who require longer term or ongoing cover, renewal and longer registration periods (our 10 year option) are more appropriate.

    Copyright is a long term right and will continue to exist, long after the author dies. To support this, as each registration nears the end, we offer the option to extended the cover for a further period.

Additional information

For more information about registration for your work, please see our fact sheet P-04: Registering Copyright, or see our question and answers pages on postal applications and online applications.