Analysis of UK copyright law on: (i) "the originality criterion as it applies to 'copies' of works"; and (ii) "the ownership of employee created works and commissioned works".


Originality is a concept in Intellectual Property Law which is concerned with the relationship between the author and his/her work, and is one of several requirements that need to be satisfied for work to gain copyright protection in the UK. It is enshrined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, s. 1(1), and it can be said that its essence has derived from more judicial reasoning and logic, as well as now EU legislation, than from its initial UK statutory basis and support. To be fulfilled it requires that the author must have exercised the requisite intellectual qualities. Due to harmonisation of copyright law in the EU, the ‘author’s own intellectual creation’ is used in the UK to determine the originality of databases, computer programs and photographs. For literary, dramatic, musical and artistic (LDMA) works (see Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, s. 1 (1) (a)), the test in the UK is whether there was sufficient labour, skill and effort expended into them. A traditional perspective is that British copyright law treats the separate elements (i.e. artistic, musical, literary and dramatic) in one composite creation as having distinct copyrights, each with their own author and term. Today, a numerous amount of material is being held in digital form, and so ‘originality’ distinctions between the categories are diminishing. The law has shifted to favour and adopt a simpler and cumulative approach/solution in relation to ‘originality’, especially due to the fact that multi-media digital products are on the increase, and therefore, for the purposes of this essay, they shall all be considered together to reflect commercial reality.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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