Guide

Managing your copyright

Copy protection devices for digital content

If you publish original work in a digital form, you can use technological protection measures to prevent unlawful uses of your material.

These are commonly known as copy protection devices or the digital rights management systems (DRMs).

Types of digital rights management systems

Digital rights management systems cover a range of technologies, such as:

  • systems to identify owners' rights and give information on licensing - eg to enable collecting societies to accurately pay royalties
  • copy protection systems to prevent unauthorised copying - eg to prevent consumers from transferring films stored on DVD to a computer hard drive

DRMs can have an important role in enabling copyright owners to offer content to consumers in different ways, while protecting their rights.

Taking infringement action

If you sell protected copies of your work, you may have the right to take action against a person who gets round or removes the technological measures. Criminal offences may also apply to those who deal in the means to get around technological measures.

Copy protection and copyright exceptions

Although it may be legitimate for right holders to use these tools to prevent copyright infringement, they can also prevent permitted activities that fall under copyright exceptions.

If you feel that your use falls under one of the exceptions, you may request a workaround to the protection measures from the right holder. If they do not provide an effective workaround, you may issue a 'notice of complaint' to the Secretary of State.

GOV.UK explains the technological protection measures complaints process.