Once you have made a drawing, written a story, or performed a song, that is now officially copyrighted. You do not need to pay a fee in order to have a copyright on a piece of creative work. While you can mark your work with a “c” to indicate copyright, whether or not you do this does not change the fact your work is your own. This is just one example of an issue to be aware of when protecting your work.

What is covered

As well as stories, drawings or songs, software, broadcasts, and recordings are also covered. This means that people can’t copy your work, distribute copies, perform in public, or distribute on the internet without your permission. Copyright can also be covered in other countries, though this will depend on the agreements involved.

The copyright can last as long as 70 years after a creator’s death if it is their own artistic work, while a broadcast can be as much as 50 years after its initial broadcast.

Selling your copyright

It is possible to sell your copyright as well. You can register it with a group that can collect royalties on your behalf or transfer the rights over to a person or company. It is also possible to pass on copyright by inheritance for as long as it is valid.

There are also separate rights involved if you are a performer in a work, even if you are not the creator. For example, if you are in the broadcast of a play or film, you may be entitled to royalties, even if the copyright has been transferred over to someone else.


Some organisations like schools may be able to use your work under an educational context or in some cases using parts of your work in a review may be considered “fair use.” It is important to check this before making a claim.

A person using your work outside a fair use context must apply for a license. If someone has not paid a fee for it, you can make a claim to stop them or also inform the organisation if the fee has been paid.

Check submission policy

Where this can become complicated is if a property is released that is similar to work. For example, if you submitted an idea for a book to a publishing company, and a similar one came out a year or so later, this doesn’t necessarily mean they stole your idea.

This can be a difficult thing to prove. This is why increasingly a lot of publishers only accept submissions through literary agents. Before submitting work to a publisher, it is best to check their submission policy or get advice first.

We can help

If you are concerned about any issues with copyright or want a dispute resolved, we can help. Contact us today to talk to our legal specialists, who can go over the case with you and help you decide if you wish to pursue it further.