Today, the UK government will publish an amendment to its Digital Economy Bill which may allow a great change in the way the law of copyright operates in the UK.

The government amendment to the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents Act (pdf) gives Ministers the ability to update the 1988 act without bringing new legislation to parliament. The move, introduced by Lord Mandelson is intended to help prevent illegal downloading of audio, video and imagery from unregulated digital sites and servers.

This is a complex legal area, concerning trade secrets, commercial assets, large and formerly highly profitable businesses and now, the nature of the easily shared information on the internet.

You can read the two sides of the current debate about the government’s plans from Stephen Timms (Minister for Digital Britain) and from Rupert Goodwins at ZDNet.

Copyright is only one element of a broader legal idea called Intellectual Property (IP) which also includes commercial Patents, Designs and Trademarks and we thought it was a good time to have a short reminder of what image copyright is about.

The full legal description of copyright can be found at the UK Intellectual Property Office. There’s a potted history of where the right came from too.

For visual creatives like Drawnalism, copyright is an automatic right which means it does not need to be applied for – the right is implicit in any original work we make. And it also applies to all these other creative businesses.

When we perform at business events we license the rights to the work we make there to our clients. This allows them to reuse the work afterwards for their own promotional activities without affecting our copyright.

Useful link: PDF downloads of copyright guides from the Intellectual Property Office

If anyone knows better, or has an experience they would like to share, please do jump into the comments below and tell us about it.

Post by Matthew Buck

Co-Director of Drawnalism Ltd.

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