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Copyright arises automatically when the work is created. It applies to literary and artistic works, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements, including computer software (although this may also be patentable if it has a technical aspect). Copyright does not protect ideas, but the expression of ideas.

Copyright confers the right to prevent others from copying, issuing copies of the work to the public, to perform, show or play the work in public, to broadcast the work, to make an adaptation of the work or do any of the above to an adaptation.

Some pieces of work may have several copyright holders, each with an interest in a different aspect of the work (e.g. a music CD). Works must be original and must have resulted from skill and judgement. Copyright does not subsist in slavish copies of other work or to works to which only minor modifications have been made.

Copyright in artistic and literary works lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator, but the duration of copyright will depend upon the type of work and therefore the type of protection and duration afforded.

Copyright will in the first instance be conferred upon the creator of a piece of work unless it is created in the course of their employment when the copyright generally belongs to the employer (the University does not claim copyright in many circumstances, see the Code of Practice on Intellectual Property (PDF-98kb) or if it has been published (in which case the rights have usually been transferred to the publisher). Moral rights of the author to be identified as such are not transferable, the author must assert this right as it is not automatic. The author also has the right to object to the work being subject to 'derogatory treatment'.

Although copyright exists automatically, all material and works should be marked with the international copyright symbol (©), the owner of the copyright and the year the work was produced. This prevents infringers' claims that they were unaware or unable to identify the copyright holder.

The use of copyright material is controlled by licence agreements; the CLA Higher Education Photocopying licence allows University staff to use copyright material in certain circumstances. Copyright is infringed by unorganised copying of a work, with exceptions made for the purposes of research and private study, criticism in reviews and news reporting and education. For further information on copyright, please see the University of Reading Library copyright page or the UK Intellectual Property Portal