Copyright in artistic works

Artistic works created on or after 1 August 1989 are protected by copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 provided that certain criteria are met, which include a requirement that the work be original. Artistic works can be protected by copyright regardless of their artistic quality.

Works created before 1 August 1989 may be protected by copyright under earlier legislation.

What is an artistic work?

The definition “artistic work” covers a broad range of types of work. The following types of work fall within the definition of “artistic work”:

“Graphic works”

“Graphic works” includes the following types of work:

  • paintings;

  • drawings (including architects drawings, engineering drawings, circuit diagrams, drawings of garments and cutting patterns, drawings of patterns for bedspreads and cushion covers, cartoons);

  • diagrams;

  • maps;

  • charts;

  • plans;

  • engravings (including rubber stereo used to print images on heat transfer paper and moulds for making the “Frisbee”);

  • etchings;

  • lithographs;

  • woodcuts; and

  • similar works.

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For more information on:

  • Photographs
  • Sculptures
  • Collages
  • Works of architecture
  • Works of “artistic craftsmanship”
  • How long does copyright in an artistic work last?