Copyright—protectable works
Published by a LexisPSL IP expert

The following IP practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Copyright—protectable works
  • Categorisation
  • Works created before CDPA 1988
  • Literary works
  • Dramatic and musical works
  • Artistic works
  • Artist’s resale right
  • Sound recordings
  • Films
  • Broadcasts
  • More...

Copyright—protectable works


Copyright is the exclusive right to do, and authorise others to do, certain acts in relation to copyright works. Copyright works have been formally categorised in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) providing clarity about the various categories, but since digitalisation has arrived on a large scale, the lines separating the categories have become blurred. European cases that form part of retained law have suggested that categorisation is not required, and that the test to be met for copyright protection is merely that the work is an expression of the ‘author’s own intellectual creation’ (see further detail in the examination of the Levola case below). Regardless of this (or for the time being), when considering copyright issues in the UK, it is advisable first to identify the work in which copyright subsists.

For subsistence (see Practice Notes: Copyright infringement and Copyright—subsistence and qualification), aside from the first principles’ requirements of originality, permanence and the need to satisfy the territorial factors under qualification, copyright works are placed into categories. These categories of works are:

  1. original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic

  2. film, sound recordings and broadcasts

  3. typographical arrangements

In theory a piece created that does not fit into the categories above would be denied copyright protection; this is unlikely in practice and even more unlikely in light of European cases such as Levola and

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