Copyright laws in the UK are relatively well known. Following the explosion of online
content, everyone seems to be at least vaguely familiar with when and how you
would be breaking these laws. Of late, however, I have noticed a growing trend
of people who don’t seem to be as knowledgeable when it comes to actually
copyrighting their work in the first place; and just because it’s yours,
doesn’t mean somebody else can’t take it. Here’s how to ensure your work is
Whatever it is your looking to copyright, the simplest way
to ensure it remains yours is to include the copyright symbol (©), your name
and the year of publication at the foot of every web page. For example, simply
writing something like “Copyright © John Smith 2014” will actually prove to be
a legally binding notice of copyright should somebody steal a photograph of
your production, a piece of text or anything displayed on the copyrighted page.
Next, another good way to ensure your work is appropriately
state explicitly that the work contained is not for reproduction. Simply
include a few choice legal phrases to make it clear that you own the work.
These include the no-frills “All rights reserved,” for a basic warning, or
include something like “any unauthorised broadcasting, public performance,
copying or re-recording will infringe copyright” to be explicitly clear.
The final tip is to attach some form of digital protection
to your work. Especially valid in the cases of photographs, digitally
watermarking your images will mean that the copyright information is embedded
into the pixels of the image. While the image will show up clear on your site,
if it is reproduced elsewhere the watermark will appear alongside all of the
relevant copyright information. Other examples of digital protection also
include using password protected PDFs or encrypting files. Unfortunately,
however, the use of these will mean that only select people with the correct
credentials can access your work.
What to do if someone steals your work?
Now, as long as you have applied at least some of the
above advice to your work, it is, in theory, fully copyright protected. This
means that the moment somebody reproduces it, you have every right to exhaust
all of the legal alleyways at your disposal.
If you’re happy with the website by simply removing the
image, the best course of action would be to courteously email the website and
request them to take it down. In the case that they don’t reply or refuse,
however, contact the webhoster. These can range from WordPress to Blogger,
and as long as you can prove that it is your content displayed they will
swiftly remove it.
If you want to take it a
step further, though, and seek financial reparations for the theft of your
intellectual property, then first take counsel from an experienced legal team,
such as that on offer over at Coles Solicitors. In this event, you will again need to prove that the image is
yours, as well as providing evidence of all of the steps you took to make it
clear that the content was copyrighted.