Literary, dramatic and musical works

Literary, dramatic and musical works are all treated in a similar manner under the Copyright, Patents and Design Act 1988.

What are known as literary works do not necessarily involve any literary talent as the description encompasses all types of printed and written works including books, magazines, journals, reports, lyrics to a song, the dialogue of a play etc. It also includes compilations such as encyclopaedias, databases and computer programs.

The term dramatic works includes the non-spoken part of a presentation, play or performance; this would typically include mime or dance.

Musical works covers the written musical aspect of a piece of work only. For example the musical notes of a stage musical or the score sheet. This category does not actually cover the recording of the particular piece of music, which would instead be categorised in Sound Recordings.

How long copyright lasts for

Published works

  • Copyright in these works usually last for 70 years from the end of the year in which the author died. If there are several authors then copyright lasts for 70 years after the last author dies.
  • Typographical copyright of a printed page lasts for 25 years from publication in that edition. So for example, you cannot freely photocopy a particular piece of classical literature by a long dead author, unless the particular edition is over 25 years old.

Unpublished works

  • If the author died before 1 January 1969 then copyright is protected for 70 years from the end of 1969 and will expire on 31 December 2039
  • If the author died on or after 1 January 1969, then the work is protected for 70 years from the end of the year in which the author died. In the case of several authors then copyright would last until 70 years after the death of the last author.

Fair Dealing

Fair dealing rules may apply for non-commercial research, private study, criticism or review and reporting current events.

The principle aim of fair dealing is to allow small amounts of copying which does not significantly harm the copyright owner but would benefit the individual making the copy.

Please note that multiple copying for classroom use is provided for separately under Copying for Educational Purposes (see below) and under the Copyright Licensing Agency Licence. It is not classed as private study, contrary to popular assumptions.

The rules governing fair dealing are not at all clearly defined, and so for cases where guidelines do not exist, individual judgement must be made.

Although the limits are undefined, the general consensus is:

  • Up to 5% or one chapter of a book (whichever is greater).
  • Up to 10% of a short book of up to 200 pages.
  • Up to 5% or one article (whichever is greater) from a journal.
  • Up to 5% of an anthology of short stories and poems or one short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages.
  • The report of one case in law reports
  • A short excerpt from a musical work, providing it is not for performance purposes.

Fair dealing for 'criticism or review' allows copying within a generally accepted limit of 400 words in one extract, or several extracts of less than 300 words totalling less than 800 words. Under fair dealing there has to an acknowledgement of the source, so that anyone seeing the copy knows its origins and author.

Copying for Educational Purposes

Educational copying covers material used in the classroom and allows all or part of copyrighted works can be replicated through non mechanical means. This may include copying out the copyrighted works onto paper or the blackboard. This however does not include copying through a reprographic process e.g. photocopying, scanning etc.

Educational copying also allows copying copyright works for examination purposes, i.e. copyright material is allowed to be used in exam papers, with the exception of sheet music. However this copied material must be excluded if the exam papers are subsequently published and cannot be used for mock exams.

The source and the author of the material must always be acknowledged when copied under education purposes.

Copyright Licensing Agency

Fortunately the University has been granted a licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) which permits the reprographic replication of multiple copies by or for the benefit of University staff and students subject to some strict terms and conditions, though fair dealing principles still apply.