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Common Gluten Misconceptions Slideshow

Common Gluten Misconceptions Slideshow

Erin Swing clears up some common gluten misconceptions.

Istock/KameleonMedia

Maybe we have grown so accustomed to taking pills to cure our illnesses, but I think it is beautiful thing not having to take a pill to suppress this sickness/disease. Managing one’s health by simply eliminating what ails you is empowering, drug-free, and without any nasty side effects.

“Can’t you just take a pill for that?” – More people than you’d think.

Istock/KameleonMedia

Maybe we have grown so accustomed to taking pills to cure our illnesses, but I think it is beautiful thing not having to take a pill to suppress this sickness/disease. Managing one’s health by simply eliminating what ails you is empowering, drug-free, and without any nasty side effects.

“There’s no wheat in there. It’s just regular flour.” – Restaurant worker.

Istock/Ivanmateev

I personally find this to be the most common gluten misconception. Unfortunately, as Americans, we can easily overlook the sourcing of our food. Yes, “regular (white) flour” is milled winter white wheat and filled with gluten (that has been bleached to look like ubiquitous white powder.)

“Wow that must suck not being able to eat gluten. I wouldn’t be able to live without ice cream.” – Fellow culinary student.

Istock/ovea

When I asked my follow culinarian to explain this statement further, it came to light that he thought gluten was sugar. No, glucose and gluten are very different.

“So what do you put on your cereal?” – A favorite quote of my culinary instructor about being gluten-free.

Istock/DNY59

Obviously, the person who said it thought milk had gluten in it. Again, just another gluten misconception. The irony here is that the vast majority of cereals contain gluten.

“It doesn’t say gluten on the ingredient list.” – Servers and many others including my sister.

Istock/neustockimages

Only when the FDA enforces gluten-free labeling on packaged foods will it be disclosed in the ingredient list. In Europe, the EFSA (European Food Safety Administration) has gluten-free labeling requirements that the product must state clearly all sources of gluten and that to be “gluten-free” the product must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. The FDA requires bold labeling for the top eight food allergens and must disclose wheat in the ingredient list. Food manufacturers, however, are very happy to help us. There have been times that I will pick up a product at the store, cannot tell if it is free of gluten, and will call the manufacturer for an immediate answer. I am a chemist with experience in formulating food products and sometimes these labels even perplex me. If you’re still uncertain though, do not risk it.

“We don't use GLUE in any of our dishes.” – Server (via a fellow gluten-free blogger). This

Istock/Klosfoto

This proved to be the most shocking and funniest thing that I have heard about gluten misconceptions. I hope that no restaurant uses glue. Meat glue, transglutaminase, used by a number of restaurants that use modern gastronomy techniques is gluten-free. But do avoid licking the adhesive on envelopes. That adhesive usually contains gluten.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.


Top 10 copyright myths

We receive a large number of enquiries and these often highlight a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about copyright law. The following attempts to dispel the &lsquotop 10&rsquo copyright myths.

1. Copyright can protect my ideas

Copyright applies to a recorded work, it cannot apply to something as intangible as an idea. Within certain fields, (such as inventions) it may be possible to apply for a patent.

Because copyright applies to the actual recorded work - documents, music, artwork, etc., if a competitor used your copyright work, (i.e. copied or adapted your promotional literature or stole content from your website to promote their own product), this would be an infringement and you could certainly take action, but there is little you can do to prevent someone else creating their own work based on a similar idea as long as they are not copying your work to do so.

2. I can copyright a name or title

Copyright laws are actually very restrictive, and do not apply to items such as names and titles that may be duplicated coincidentally, or that may be legitimately used in unrelated instances.

From a copyright perspective, there is no reason why two works cannot have the same title. As long as the content of works themselves are not copied or adapted, no infringement has occurred.

This does NOT mean that there is no protection on the name, as it may be covered by other legislation: If the name was a trademark, or if it could be proved that that use of the title misleads or confuses the public, (this is know as &lsquopassing off&rsquo), then there can be issues.

While copyright will apply from the point a work is created, &lsquopassing off&rsquo is based on the public perception of what the name implies, (i.e. you have a very clear idea of what you expect to be given if you ask for a &lsquoCoca-Cola&rsquo).

For further reading on this subject please see our fact sheet: P-18: Names, titles and copyright

3. I can simply post a copy to myself as proof of copyright

This method (sometimes called &lsquopoor man&rsquos copyright&rsquo), may help in some cases, but it is extremely poor evidence as it is very easy to fake - for example by replacing the actual materials inside at a later date.

The main problem if you send your work to yourself via courier or the postal service (including recorded/tracked and signed for services) or use any other system which requires you to store the work yourself, is that there is no verifiable evidence to say that the contents have not been swapped.

For more on this, our page dealing with poor man&lsquos copyright and other &lsquoalternatives&rsquo may be worth a look.

4. Everything on the Internet &lsquopublic domain&rsquo and free to use

This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by &lsquopublic domain&rsquo when referring to copyright work.

A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires, this will typically be many years after the author&rsquos death.

While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

5. Anything without a copyright notice is not protected

Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.

In the US, a notice was required to retain copyright on works published before January 1st 1978, but this was the exception not the norm, and is certainly no longer the case. Also, once the US signed up to the Berne convention, US law was amended, and the use of copyright notices became optional on work published from March 1st 1989.

Having said this, it is still certainly worth placing a copyright notice on your work. A copyright notice reminds others that copyright exists, and may therefore help to deter infringement.

6. If I change someone else&rsquos work I can claim it as my own

The act of copying or adapting someone else&rsquos work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.

The only safe option is to create something that is not copied or adapted from the work of others, or seek the permission of the rights owner (you should expect to pay a fee and/or royalties for this).

There is nothing to stop you being inspired by the work of others, but when it comes to your own work, start with a blank sheet and do not try to copy what others have done.

7. I can legally copy 10% without it being infringement

This is not the case. Unless it is explicitly allowed under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorised use of copyright work can potentially lead to legal action.

When using quotes or extracts, there is no magic figure or percentage that can be applied as each case must be viewed on its own merit. In cases that have come to trial what is clear is that it is the perceived importance of the copied content rather than simply the quantity that counts.

Our advice would always be to seek permission before you use the work of others.

8. It&rsquos OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it.

No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.

If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.

9. It&rsquos hard to prove copyright infringement

This is not necessarily the case. Copyright law is principally civil not criminal law, and civil law requires a lower burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff must simply convince the court or tribunal that their claim is valid, and that on balance of probability it is likely that the defendant is guilty.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the plaintiff should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Copying or adaptation of their work has occurred, and it is not just a coincidental similarity (i.e. it is clear that someone has copied), and,
  • If the defendant claims authorship and disputes the claim, the plaintiff should also be able to supply evidence to demonstrate that they are the author and/or had the prior claim on the work for example a registration that pre-dates the defendants claim.

10. Confusion over copyright in sound recordings

A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying work that is featured in the recording. This means that a new recording of an out of copyright work will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original work.

For example, a new recording of an piece of classical music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music (please see our Music Copyright fact sheet for more information on this topic). The same logic applies to to recordings of other works, such as plays and books.