Copyright is a property right which authors, designers, producers and publishers, to name but a few, may all take advantage of.
Copyright comes into existence automatically, without the need for any formalities, such as registration. It arises once a work has been created and recorded, provided that it is original. This essentially means that it must not be copied and the test of originality is fairly low, as can be seen from the protection of documents like pools coupons (Littlewoods)
Primarily, it protects literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works, however, copyright has been extended to cover computer programmes and databases and, more recently, to activities involving material stored on the internet.
The right will, in most circumstances, initially belong to the author of the work and can then be sold/assigned or licensed to a third party in order to exploit its value.
The period of protection varies according to the type of work in question, but for the main categories, it lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years and can be enforced by the author’s beneficiaries.
The owner of the copyright has exclusive rights in relation to the work to: copy it; issue copies to the public; rent or lend the work to the public; perform show or play it in public; broadcast it or include it in a cable programme service and make an adaptation of it. The owner may then prevent others from dealing with the work in this way and claim damages where someone does so without permission.
These are a set of rights created to compliment copyright and belong to the author of a copyright work unless he/she chooses to waive them.
Moral rights include, the right to be identified as author, the right to prevent derogatory treatment of your work and a right to privacy in relation to such things as private photographs.