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Glossary of Terms


Copyright is an intellectual property right that protects either literary works (e.g. song lyrics); dramatic works (e.g. dance and mime); musical works (e.g. music composition); or artistic works (e.g. painting or sculpture) works. See Copyright Protection (below). UK Copyright law is mainly set out in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (‘CDPA’).

Copyright Protection

If certain criteria are met, the creator or author of the work will be offered copyright protection, which gives him or her exclusive rights over certain uses of those works, for a certain period of time. The term of copyright protection varies depending on the type of copyright work.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is where a protected work has been used without the permission of the person who holds the copyright, or the person who holds a license to exploit the work. This can be done directly or indirectly, and can involve the usage of either all or a substantial part of the work. Without obtaining permission from the copyright owner, the following acts can amount to copyright infringement: Copying the work in any way e.g. making a copy of recorded music or a film, Issuing copies of the work to the public, Performing, showing or playing the work in public e.g. performing plays and music, Playing sound recordings and showing films or videos in public, Broadcasting the work to the public by electronic transmission (this includes putting copyright material, such as films on the internet, or Making an adaptation of the work e.g. translating a literary or dramatic work.

Fair Dealing

Fair dealing is an exception to UK copyright law, where an individual is permitted the use of a protected work without licensing in certain circumstances. It is governed by Sections 29 and 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, (CDPA) which provide three types of situation in which fair dealing is a valid defence: where the use is for the purposes of research or private study, where it is to allow for criticism or review, and where it is for the purpose of reporting current events.

Fair Use

Fair use is a U.S. copyright doctrine that allows the authorised use of a limited portion of a protected work. The use of a copyrighted work is usually fair use if it is used in a non-commercial manner, such as classroom teaching. It is generally used as a defence to copyright infringement and can be contrasted with the UK doctrine of fair dealing, which outline rigid and specific categories of permitted use of copyrighted work.

Film Piracy

Film piracy is the manufacturing of unauthorised copies of a film that are protected by copyright, and distributing those copies by selling them to the public. Film piracy is a form of copyright infringement; as such copies have been made without the permission of the copyright owner. In order to make authorised copies of a film, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner to do so.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) File Sharing

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is the distribution and sharing of files using the technology of peer-to-peer networking and, in most cases, an internet connection. It allows users on computers to access media files such as music and movies using a specialised P2P software program that searches for other computers on a P2P network, and locates the desired content.

Public Domain

If a work is available in the public domain, it means that it is not protected by copyright, or its copyright has expired. Therefore, a work in the ‘public domain’ means that the work is available to the public for use, for free.

Trade Mark

A trade mark is the legal definition of a brand. Most consist of words, logos or a combination of both. It represents a certain type of goods or services.

Trade Mark Infringement

Trade mark infringement is the violation of the exclusive rights attached to a trademark without the authorisation of the trademark owner or any licensees. Infringement may occur when one party uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark owned by another party, in relation to goods or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers. Where the registered mark has a significant reputation, infringement may also arise from the use of the identical or a similar mark which, although not causing confusion, may damage or take unfair advantage of the reputation of the registered mark. This can occasionally arise from the use of the identical or similar mark for goods or services which are different to those covered by the registration of the registered mark.

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For more information see our Frequently Asked Questions.

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