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CILIP Copyright Conference - Blogs and Resources

The following blogs and list of resources have been reproduced with kind permission by NKCC.

Copyright Fact Sheet


What is copyright?

  • Copyright is mainly based on the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, subsequent revisions including the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003, Copyright Rights in Performances Regulations 2014, previous Copyright Acts (1911 and 1956), Directives, Treaties, Conventions and Case Law.
  • Copyright is an exclusive economic right granted to the creator of original work to permit or prevent other people from copying it.
  • Copyright does not protect an idea, only the material expression of the idea.
  • Works are protected regardless of artistic merit, although they need to be original and/or show skill and judgement.

What does copyright protect?

  • Copyright only protects certain things specified by the Copyright Act - if it does not fall within one of the eight categories – it will not be protected
  • These categories are: Literary works, Dramatic Works, Musical Works, Artistic Works, Broadcasts, Sound Recordings, Films and Typographic Works

How are works protected?

  • There is no need to register copyright in the UK: it exists automatically as soon as a work in one of the above categories is fixed
  • There is no need to use a copyright symbol in the UK, if a work is protected by copyright, it will be protected anyway
  • For most works, copyright protection in the UK lasts 70 years from the end of the year in which the artist who created the work dies. When the artist dies, copyright normally passed to their estate unless they specify otherwise.
  • As a general rule, the first owner of copyright in a Work(s), the “Copyright Holder” will be the artist who produced the work unless it was made by an employee in the course of their employment.
  • A Copyright Holder is able to transfer the legal ownership of that copyright to a third party (also called an "assignment") or grant permission to use it under licence.

What are “Moral Rights”?

  • Moral Rights relate to the creator’s honour or reputation. They give the creator:

    - The right to be named as the creator of the work (paternity right)
    - The right to object to someone wrongly named the creator of his/her work (false attribution right)
    - The right to object to derogatory treatment of the work (derogatory treatment right)

  • Moral rights can’t be assigned to anyone else (unlike copyright), but they can be waived.

What are Creative Commons Licences?

Creative Commons Licences have been developed by Creative Commons, a non for profit charity In order to facilitate sharing of creative works, Creative Commons have developed several licences to enable rights holders, and those acting with the specific authorisation of rights holders to use, share and reuse their work.


Where can you find out more?

General Information

Intellectual Property Office

Creative Commons

Copyright User Copyright Cortex

Korn, N and McKenna, G 2015. A Practical Guide to Copyright. Collections Trust.


Cracking Ideas

BBC Copyright Aware

UK Creative Content: Get it Right From a Legal Site

Copyright Exploitation Help

Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS)


British Library Business and IP Centre

Disclaimer: None of the information contained within this document should be construed as legal advice. Should specific legal advice be required, please consult the appropriate legal advisor.

Creative Commons Licence

© Naomi Korn, 2017. Some Rights Reserved. The information here is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA)


Clearing Rights & Films: Bringing Out the Inner Sherlock

By Corinna Reicher,Film & Rights Researcher, NKCC

Clearing rights is a process that many find daunting. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming, and research usually turns out to be anything but straightforward. Yet, it is exactly this uncertainty that is also the most fun and rewarding: Solving a mystery offers a sense of achievement. And who doesn’t want to channel their inner Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple by successfully using the art of deduction? Logic and lateral thinking usually help, but luck and serendipity equally play a part. There is a huge danger of getting side-tracked, of following red herrings and suspecting the wrong character, but that in itself can be fascinating. Just don’t forget to invite all suspects into the same room at the end to sum up and reveal your results!

Where to Start?

When researching rights holders for moving images, the ideal scenario is to have a copyright notice as part of the end credits. To keep things interesting, however, the details found on archive footage more often than not relate to a defunct company – but even outdated information is a solid starting point. Simple searches with a search engine may throw up useful results and additional pieces in the puzzle. Names of company directors or artistic personnel are useful leads. There are several national and regional public film archives in the UK with excellent online catalogues, as well as commercial footage libraries which also have easily accessible databases.

Orphans & Layers of Rights

Most difficult to research are works where the rights holder or indeed origin of the film are unknown or difficult to ascertain. In those cases, the method of finding out more about the item itself by forensically scrutinising the content of the footage is essential. Films do inherently offer a wealth of information, even if there is no metadata. There are also several layers of rights ownership, for instance rights in stills or music used, or performance rights, which need to be taken into account and which make the research an even more complex process.

Wealth of Experience and Expertise

Before joining the NKCC team earlier this year, I had been working in the film heritage sector for many years. One of my roles was to oversee the Imperial War Museum’s film licensing operations, so I have had first-hand experience at issuing licences and negotiating licencing agreements for material owned by the museum. As a film historian with a background in moving image archiving, I have substantial experience in researching and interpreting archive footage. Being able to read a film is crucial for establishing details such as the date and origin of a film – is it a newsreel, a TV interview or an amateur film, for instance. This is the type of information that helps to identify potential owners of a physical copy of a film as well as its rights holders. This also applies to the digital realm: it is important to find out who the owner of the source material is. To distinguish between the physical material, the copy of a film, and the inherent intellectual property rights, is crucial as they might be owned by different organisations or persons. Archives do not necessarily own the copyright to the material they are preserving.

These are just some of the aspects important to bear in mind when embarking on a project. NKCC offer expert advice and carry out all research, due diligence and negotiations necessary to clear rights and obtain licence agreements on behalf of clients.

In association with:

Naomi Korn Copyright Copyright and Compliance
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