Dealing properly with copyright is difficult when it is so easy to copy material on the internet but it is important to recognise the rights of people who make their living out of creative work.

Under UK law - and the law is similar in most other countries - any work which is created is automatically the copyright of the person who created it. The law includes writing, drawing, music, photographs, and software. Until 1996, under UK law copyright ended fifty years after the creator of the work died or, if it was published after their death, fifty years after the work was first lawfully published. However, UK law was superseded by a Directive of the European Union from 1 January 1996. That harmonised the copyright laws in the member states of the Union and extended the period of copyright to seventy years for all member states of the European Union including the UK. So in the UK and throughout the European Union copyright now lasts for seventy years. In fact, it is slightly longer than that as copyright ends on 1 January after the seventieth anniversary.

Putting material on the internet is an act of publication. And anything put on the Internet on a computer in the UK is covered by UK and EU law. The law which applies here is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Council Directive 93/98/EEC of 29 October 1993.

International copyright law
Copyright of material is governed by the law of the country in which it is published. Material which is copyright in the European Union may not be copyright elsewhere. However, two main international copyright agreements should ensure that material is copyright in most countries of the world. They are the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 9 September 1886, last revised Paris 1971 and the Universal Copyright Convention, Geneva 1952, last revised Paris 1971. Most countries in the world are signatories to one or both. But not all countries have ratified the the latest protocol, including Britain. The main omissions are China, Singapore and Vietnam. The former states of the Soviet Union are the most significant group of countries which subscribe to the weaker UCC only.

These conventions aim to extend the copyright protection given to a state's own nationals to nationals of other states. The UCC is the one which introduced the © symbol and only material marked with the © symbol, the owner's name and the date of creation is protected by the Convention.

The UCC grants copyright for the author's life plus 25 years and the Berne convention for the author's life plus 50 years.

My policy
Where these pages include work created by someone else that material is

All material on these pages which is not covered by the above exceptions is © Paul Lewis 1996-2005. I retain the copyright in all my work (except the broadcast copyright in my work for the BBC).

Although you may use this material for your own personal information, I retain copyright in it and will pursue any breach myself or through the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society or the National Union of Journalists.

By accessing this material you undertake to use it only for your personal use and in particular not to sell it to anyone else nor to republish it nor to incorporate it into your own work in breach of copyright without seeking my permission. You also agree not to give it to anyone else without passing on this condition which will also apply in full to them.

Sorry to be so formal, but I make my living from my intellectual property. There are enough professional publishers who try to steal it without encouraging anyone else!

All material on these pages is Paul Lewis 1996-2005