Copyright Act 1956

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1956 c. 74


Copyright Act , 1956

(4 & 5 Eliz. 2) 74

An Act to make new provision in respect of copyright and related matters, in substitution for the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1911, and other enactments relating thereto; to amend the Registered Designs Act, 1949, with respect to designs related to artistic works in which copyright subsists, and to amend the Dramatic and Musical Performers' Protection Act, 1925; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.

B E it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Copyright in Original Works

Part I

Copyright in Original Works

S-1 Nature of copyright under this Act.

1 Nature of copyright under this Act.

(1) In this Act ‘copyright’ in relation to a work (except where the context otherwise requires) means the exclusive right, by virtue and subject to the provisions of this Act, to do, and to authorise other persons to do, certain acts in relation to that work in the United Kingdom or in any other country to which the relevant provision of this Act extends.

The said acts, in relation to a work of any description, are those acts which, in the relevant provision of this Act, are designated as the acts restricted by the copyright in a work of that description.

(2) In accordance with the preceding subsection, but subject to the following provisions of this Act, the copyright in a work is infringed by any person who, not being the owner of the copyright, and without the licence of the owner thereof, does, or authorises another person to do, any of the said acts in relation to the work in the United Kingdom or in any other country to which the relevant provision of this Act extends.

(3) In the preceding subsections references to the relevant provision of this Act, in relation to a work of any description, are references to the provision of this Act whereby it is provided that (subject to compliance with the conditions specified therein) copyright shall subsist in works of that description.

(4) The preceding provisions of this section shall apply, in relation to any subject-matter (other than a work) of a description to which any provision of Part II of this Act relates, as they apply in relation to a work.

(5) For the purposes of any provision of this Act which specifies the conditions under which copyright may subsist in any description of work or other subject-matter, ‘qualified person’—

(a ) in the case of an individual, means a person who is a British subject or British protected person or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or (not being a British subject or British protected person or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland) is domiciled or resident in the United Kingdom or in another country to which that provision extends, and

(b ) in the case of a body corporate, means a body incorporated under the laws of any part of the United Kingdom or of another country to which that provision extends.

In this subsection ‘British protected person’ has the same meaning as in the British Nationality Act, 1948.

S-2 Copyright in literary, dramatic and musical works.

2 Copyright in literary, dramatic and musical works.

(1) Copyright shall subsist, subject to the provisions of this Act, in every original literary, dramatic or musical work which is unpublished, and of which the author was a qualified person at the time when the work was made or if the making of the work extended over a period, was a qualified person for a substantial part of that period.

(2) Where an original literary, dramatic or musical work has been published, then, subject to the provisions of this Act, copyright shall subsist in the work (or, if copyright in the work subsisted immediately before its first publication, shall continue to subsist) if, but only if,—

(a ) the first publication of the work took place in the United Kingdom, or in another country to which this section extends, or

(b ) the author of the work was a qualified person at the time when the work was first published, or

(c ) the author had died before that time but was a qualified person immediately before his death.

(3) Subject to the last preceding subsection, copyright subsisting in a work by virtue of this section shall continue to subsist until the end of the period of fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which the author died, and shall then expire:

Provided that if before the death of the author none of the following acts had been done, that is to say,—

(a ) the publication of the work,

(b ) the performance of the work in public,

(c ) the offer for sale to the public of records of the work, and

(d ) the broadcasting of the work,

the copyright shall continue to subsist until the end of the period of fifty years from the end of the calendar year which includes the earliest occasion on which one of those acts is done.

(4) In the last preceding subsection references to the doing of any act in relation to a work include references to the doing of that act in relation to an adaptation of the work.

(5) The acts restricted by the copyright in a literary, dramatic or musical work are—

(a ) reproducing the work in any material form;

(b ) publishing the work;

(c ) performing the work in public;

(d ) broadcasting the work;

(e ) causing the work to be transmitted to subscribers to a diffusion service;

(f ) making any adaptation of the work;

(g ) doing, in relation to an adaptation of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in paragraphs (a ) to (e ) of this subsection.

(6) In this Act ‘adaptation’—

(a ) in relation to a literary or dramatic work, means any of the following, that is to say,—

(i) in the case of a non-dramatic work, a version of the work (whether in its original language or a different language) in which it is converted into a dramatic work;

(ii) in the case of a dramatic work, a version of the work (whether in its original language or a different language) in which it is converted into a non-dramatic work;

(iii) a translation of the work;

(iv) a version of the work in which the story or action is conveyed wholly or mainly by means of pictures in a form suitable for reproduction in a book, or in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical; and

(b ) in relation to a musical work, means an arrangement or transcription of the work,

so however that the mention of any matter in this definition shall not affect the generality of paragraph (a ) of the last preceding subsection.

S-3 Copyright in artistic works.

3 Copyright in artistic works.

(1) In this Act ‘artistic work’ means a work of any of the following descriptions, that is to say,—

(a ) the following, irrespective of artistic quality, namely paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and photographs;

(b ) works of architecture, being either buildings or models for buildings;

(c ) works of artistic craftsmanship, not falling within either of the preceding paragraphs.

(2) Copyright shall subsist, subject to the provisions of this Act, in every original artistic work which is unpublished, and of which the author was a qualified person at the time when the work was made, or, if the making of the work extended over a period, was a qualified person for a substantial part of that period.

(3) Where an original artistic work has been published, then, subject to the provisions of this Act, copyright shall subsist in the work (or, if copyright in the work subsisted immediately before its first publication, shall continue to subsist) if, but only if,—

(a ) the first publication of the work took place in the United Kingdom, or in another country to which this section extends, or

(b ) the author of the work was a qualified person at the time when the work was first published, or

(c ) the author had died before that time, but was a qualified person immediately before his death.

(4) Subject to the last preceding subsection, copyright subsisting in a work by virtue of this section shall continue to subsist until the end of the period of fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which the author died, and shall then expire:

Provided that—

(a ) in the case of an engraving, if before the death of the author the engraving had not been published, the copyright shall continue to subsist until the end of the period of fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which it is first published;

(b ) the copyright in a photograph shall continue to subsist until the end of the period of fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which the photograph is first published, and shall then expire.

(5) The acts restricted by the copyright in an artistic work are—

(a ) reproducing the work in any material form;

(b ) publishing the work;

(c ) including the work in a television broadcast;

(d ) causing a television programme which includes the work to be transmitted to subscribers to a diffusion service.

S-4 Ownership of copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works

4 Ownership of copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the author of a work shall be entitled to any copyright subsisting in the work by virtue of this Part of this Act.

(2) Where a literary, dramatic or artistic work is made by the author in the course of his employment by the proprietor of a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical under a contract of service or apprenticeship, and is so made for the purpose of publication in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, the said proprietor shall be entitled to the copyright in the work in so far as...

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