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Copyright including IPR: Welcome

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Creative Commons License

The information and images on this guide are from the JISC Web 2.0 Rights Website (Design Credit Andreas Viklund) and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property (IP) lets people own the work they create. IP results from the expression of an idea. So IP might be a brand, an invention, a design, a song or another intellectual creation. IP can be owned, bought and sold.

Diagram showing the different parts that constitute IPR

IPR covers the following:

  • Copyright.
  • Design rights.
  • Performers rights.
  • Patents.
  • Trade marks.
  • Database rights.

This guide provides an introduction to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).  IPR is a complex subject and students and staff are advised to seek further guidance using the links provided on the different pages.


Types of IP

Copyright:  Copyright  protects written, theatrical, musical and artistic works as well as film, book layouts, sound recordings, and broadcasts. Copyright is an automatic right, which means you don't have to apply for it. There are different copyrights inherent in different types of works:

  • Broadcasts and Sound Recordings - 50 years.
  • Typography - 25 years.
  • Dramatic works - 70 years after the end of the calendar year in which s/he died.
  • Literary or Artistic works - lifetime of the author or artist plus 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which s/he died.
  • Music - Lifetime of composer plus 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which s/he died.
  • Film - 70 years after death of the survivor of the principal director/author of the screen play/dialogue or composer of the soundtrack if at least one individual is from the EU or origin of the film is from a member state of the EU.

Design rights:  There are different kinds of protection which may apply to designs. These are:

  • UK Registered Designs.
  • UK unregistered Design Right.
  • Registered Community Designs.
  • Unregistered Community Designs.
  • Copyright.

To find out which right is most appropriate, visit:

Performers rights' issues arise in any type of performance (theatrical, musical, oral, dance or even in a lecture). Permission to reproduce is imperative in order to avoid infringing copyrights.

Patents protect the features and processes that make things work and lets inventors profit from their inventions. Patents last for a maximum of 20 years from the date of application.  Information on patents is available from the UK IP Office.

Trade Marks can be registered or unregistered and a trade mark is typically a symbol, image or word associated with particular goods or services. A registered trademark must be renewed every 10 years to keep it in force.

Database rights is in addition to the underlying copyright of the contents of the database.  A database is a collection of independent works, data or other materials that are arranged in a systematic manner.  Database rights alone can be as long as 15 years from publication date.


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This guide does not qualify as legal advice, and should not be taken as superseding the requirements expressed in any license agreements that the Institute may have with rights organisations or publishers. Whilst we have endeavoured to ensure the accuracy of the statements in these guidelines, responsibility for the consequences of any action, or lack of action, taken by a reader as a result of reading these guidelines remains with the reader concerned.