What is Copyright?

Copyright is a property right, essentially giving the copyright owner the exclusive rights to produce copies, control or perform an original literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work. In the United Kingdom, copyright is legally defined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Computer software is defined in the Act as a 'literary work' and is therefore protected by the Act.

What is Copyright Infringement?

If anything is done with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work without the permission of the copyright owner and restricted by copyright as defined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, then it could well be an infringement of the owners copyright. For example, if a software program is copied without the copyright owner's authorisation that is an infringement.

What are the penalties for copyright infringement?

If copyright infringement is proven in a criminal court, on indictment the defendant could receive an unlimited fine and up to ten years imprisonment per offence.

What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is a sign, which could consist of words or a logo, which is used to distinguish the goods or services of one trader from those of another. In the United Kingdom, registered trade marks are legally defined by the Trade Marks Act 1994. A registered trade mark is a property right gained by registering the trade mark at Trade Mark Registry at the Patents Office. Most software products sold in this country are protected by trade marks.

What is trade mark infringement?

A registered trade mark is infringed if it is used in the United Kingdom without the trade mark owners consent. For example, if an infringing copy of a computer program containing a registered trade mark is sold by a trader, then the trader is also likely to have infringed the registered trade mark.

What are the penalties for trade mark infringement?

Under the Trade Marks Act 1994, criminal infringement of a registered trade mark is an arrestable offence. On indictment a defendant, if proven guilty, could face an unlimited fine and up to ten years imprisonment per offence.

What is a software licence?

These are the terms and conditions of use of a software program, as set out by the software publisher or owner of the copyright. The licence will be issued with the software on paper or in electronic form. It is important that the licence is read and understood, before the software is installed. If you are in breach of the licence conditions it is very likely you have infringed the owners' copyright.

Microsoft licensing guides

Am I allowed to make back-ups of my computer software?

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 specifically allows the making of back-up copies of software, but usually only one copy providing it is for lawful use. If there is any doubt over what constitutes a back-up, check your software licence agreement or the software publisher.

*  BSA survey ‘Benefits from Lowering PC Software Piracy In the United Kingdom’ – January 2008