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Copyright in a website

Written by Saowanee Kristin, a student on work experience at Lawdit on 19 September 2013

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Copyright Protection in a Website

This article was written by Saowanee Kristin whilst on work experience.

Copyright protection subsists in works that are original and fall into one of the categories referred to in the  Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 ( ‘The Act’). In a website, the screen layout may be protected as a table; a graphic or photograph may be protected as an artistic work and the text  may be afforded protection as a literary work.  Copyright protection will overlap in a website where numerous types of work have been used; each component will have copyright protection and may simultaneously be protected.

There are no formalities required for copyright protection; copyright arises automatically at the time the work has been created. However, the Internet has allowed for copyrighted material to be  easily copied. Make sure you always add the © symbol to your website.   The ‘creator’ or ‘author’ of the website will have a number of exclusive rights under the Act such as the right to reproduce and to distribute the work. 

If you have created a website for your employer whilst at work, then the copyright will generally belong to the employer unless there you have a contract in place to state otherwise.

It is common myth that anything that is uploaded onto the internet falls in the public domain. The exclusive rights remain with the author/creator until the copyright expires, which is generally 70 years after the author’s death . Infringement of copyright does not need actual knowledge of the copied work; only that the person who has copied the original work may have had access to it. Therefore, if a website has elements substantially similar to yours and these have been copied you may be able to claim damages.  

Easy peasy!

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