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Copyright Law.

Copyright Law.


Copyright and Performing Rights.

A number of members have contacted us following contact received from various organisations alleging a breach of copyright and performing right protections.

With advancement in computers and the internet, it has made it easier for people to source and download the creative work of others. However, most images are protected by copyright law; there does not have to be any small print or accompanying © logo to confirm it is protected.

Copyright falls within the intellectual property (IP) rights recognised under UK law and modified by EU law.  Copyright gives originators of creative work control over the ways their work is used and provides a means for them to earn a living.

Whilst you might innocently be tempted to use such material, you should never assume that images on the internet are freely available for use. It is a misconception that images downloaded from the internet can be used for your own publications or websites without permission.

Interestingly, some members have contacted us when web-designers engaged to design their website have incorporated downloaded images without obtaining the necessary permission; putting the member at risk of action from the owner of the images. However, we are sure reputable web designers do not practice in this way.

Technological advances enable surveillance by the bodies which seek to enforce copyright and performance rights law in this country. Consequently, if you want to use something already created elsewhere (i.e. not specifically written and created for your publication/website) then you may need to get permission.  Your options are:

  • obtain permission and if applicable pay the relevant fee to use the image/material (The easiest way of getting permission and paying to use the creative work of someone else is to obtain a licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency ( - you could try and contact the owner direct, but you would need to ensure you are dealing with the owner/author which could be problematical); or
  • you could purchase a photo library CD or access to an equivalent on-line library of images; or
  • generate your own material and images (e.g. Digital photography now makes it easier to create your own picture images: but if taking pictures of people for publication, you should check they are happy for their picture to be used and their names to be used in captions if applicable).

Copyright law also protects sound recordings and films (CDs, videos and DVDs) as well as computer software and broadcasts.

Some members have been contacted by PRS and PPL and have asked about these organisations.  If live/recorded music is audible at your place of work, (e.g. radio, or CD/tape/MP3) you will need both a Performing Rights Society (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) license.  PRS ( and PPL ( are two independent schemes that represent the interests of different rights holders for the use of recorded and live music in public. Therefore you will need to either stop playing the radio/music at your place of work; or pay the appropriate licence fees but we recommend you check out the PRS and PPL website to explore whether you do in fact need both licences e.g. whether there are any applicable exemptions that you could rely upon.

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