Copyright Primer - part 1 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

by Matthew Neve Published 01/10/2010

I have, for some time, been chewing over the idea of an article on intellectual property (IP). 'Some time' actually goes back to a European conference on medical illustration at which we were entertained by a lawyer from the Manchester practice, Gray and Co, on the vagaries of intellectual property. As a law practice, IP is a speciality that they offer. The reason for starting off like this is that neither Mathew Neve nor I are lawyers, so you must not take the article below as a perfect interpretation of the law as it stands. If you think you have been seriously damaged by an IP matter, take professional advice. The article will hopefully give you an idea about how to prevent abuse in the first place. There is a plain man's guide to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which, along with some amendments to bring the UK into line with the European Union, is the current law. It may be found at:

Matters of patents, copyright and trade marks are now handled by The Intellectual Property Office (since April 2007), which is an operating name of the Patent Office. The Patent Office is an Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with Vince Cable as the minister. They have an excellent website at:

And finally before we start, never forget that the public at large have a very poor understanding of copyright. Typically they imagine that if they have paid you to attend and photograph their weddings that they, de facto, become the copyright owners of the images. This was perfectly illustrated by an incident in which one of our members was persuasively invited into a client's house (when delivering the finished album) to see the "lovely blow-up that **** did for me, off your proofs" framed and hanging on the wall. The innocence with which the incident unfolded confirms the lack of knowledge out there!

As this is something a photographer faces every day I decided to explain some of the misconceptions of copyright and set myself a small challenge to find out supermarkets' ways of dealing with potential copyright theft.

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1st Published 01/10/2010
last update 06/11/2019 11:05:12

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