Copyright in Published Editions

What is a published edition?

A published edition for copyright purposes is the published edition of the whole or any part of a literary, dramatic or musical work. It relates to the design of the work – its style, composition, layout and general format and appearance. A newspaper and magazinewill constitute a published edition.

What copyright rules apply to published editions?

The typographical arrangement of a published edition is protected by copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 provided that certain criteria are met. This applies to published editions from 1 August 1989 (earlier legislation covers published editions made before that date). The rules apply if an individual wants to reproduce the whole or a substantial part of the work.

Even though a newspaper constitutes a published edition, the individual articles in the newspaper may be protected by copyright separately as literary works. Also, the design of a typeface contained in a published edition may be protected by copyright separately as an artistic work.

How long does copyright in a published edition last?

Copyright in the typographical arrangement of a published edition expires at the end of the 25-year period from the end of the calendar year in which it was first published. The duration of this copyright protection is the shortest under UK copyright law.

How does this work in practice?

If you want to use material contained within a published edition, you must obtain the copyright owner’s consent. If you want to reproduce the typographical work itself you need the publisher’s permission. It is fine to merely reference the work without permission. If you want to use the actual literary work itself, you need permission from the author (or creator) to do so.

Article written by...
Nicola Laver LLB
Nicola Laver LLB

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A non-practising solicitor, Nicola is also a fully qualified journalist. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a legal journalist, editor and author.