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Understanding copyright and protecting your work

An article on how copyright works to protect original work.
© University of Reading

Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission.

Although the creators of punk fanzines rarely bothered with copyright, now that the internet has made original work so much easier to copy and distribute, it’s entirely appropriate for you to protect your own work with a copyright notice.

You get copyright protection automatically – you don’t have to apply or pay a fee and there isn’t a register of copyright works in the UK. Marking your work with the copyright symbol (©), your name and the year of creation is optional. Whether you mark the work or not doesn’t affect the level of protection you have but does give others a signal that the work you’re displaying is your original creation and that you intend to protect it. If you choose to mark your work on the Padlet wall, we recommend using the same name as you’ve used for your FututeLearn profile.

Copyright prevents people from:

  • copying your work
  • distributing copies of it, whether free of charge or for sale
  • renting or lending copies of your work
  • performing, showing or playing your work in public
  • making an adaptation of your work
  • putting it on the internet.

You can, however, give people permission to do these things without giving up your copyright, which lasts until 70 years after the author’s death.

Understanding copyright can be a complicated business. This article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. Source: UK Government (n/d), ‘How copyright protects your work’, via

© University of Reading
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