Copyright for your business

How can copyright help my business?


Copyright can be an important source of income for your business. If your business owns the copyright in a piece of work - eg an advertising jingle, a technical manual, a song lyric or a magazine article - you can control how it's used commercially. For example, you could charge every time someone plays your jingle on the radio, downloads your manual from the internet, makes copies of your song lyrics or reprints your magazine article.

How copyright protects your work

Copyright means that copies of your work:

  • cannot be made, issued, rented or loaned without your permission
  • may not be adapted, performed or broadcast without your permission

Importantly, it means you can take action to stop any copyright infringement. Since copyright is a private right, it is your responsibility to take action if anyone makes use of the whole or a substantial part of your work without your permission.

Economic rights

Like other intellectual property rights, copyright can be:

  • sold
  • licensed
  • transferred
  • inherited

Moral rights

Moral rights are only available for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film, as well as some performances. Moral rights mean you:

  • can object to distortions of your work
  • have the right to be identified as the author of your work (provided you have clearly declared you want that right)

Unlike economic rights, moral rights cannot be sold or otherwise transferred. However, the rights holder can choose to waive these rights. There are also certain situations where moral rights may not apply. Find out more about the rights granted by copyright.

Copyright collecting societies

In several fields, copyright owners have come together to form collecting societies that work on their behalf to collect royalties by issuing licences. They can simplify the process for copyright owners as well as for those who wish to make repeated use of your original copyright works. Read GOV.UK's guide on licensing bodies and collecting societies.