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Copyright Issues


Like many of us I'm sure, I've accumulated quite a library of useful stuff on HR and Training & Development. If I want to use these materials in things I produce for my clients, how can I ensure I am not infringing any copyrights?

Similarly, how can I copyright my own materials?

Any ideas(by e-mail preferably)gratefully accepted.
Matt Somers

3 Responses

  1. Copyright
    Dear Matt

    In order to get permission, it is advisable that you write to the publisher of the material you wish to use, preferably demonstrating the context within which you will use the material.

    Most authors are delighted simply to know that their material is being used, rather than requesting payment.

    Copyright, as I understand it, begins the moment you commit “pen to paper.” However, in order to effectively copyright your material, it must be registered. In the USA, it is with the Library of Congress; in the UK, there exists the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd. (phone 0207-436 5931; email:

    You can find further information on the CLA and also publishing the Writers & Artists Yearbook (available at all largish bookstores).

    Happy writing!


  2. Copyright
    A musician friend of mine told me that to copyright his songs, he put them into an envelope, addressed to himself and posted them. When the letter arrived, he lodged it (UNOPENED!) with his bank and the date stamp on the envelope is enough to prove that you had committed pen to paper by that date. I don’t know how true this is. You can put a copyright symbol on anything you write/draw. In our department, we put copyright and our department name on the training material. We were told by a solicitor that it is meaningless and we had to change it to being copyright to the Company, as our department was not a proper entity in its own right. However, as an individual, I am sure you could just put a copyright symbol on your stuff.

  3. copyright problems
    Permission can be sought by writing to the publisher of the material in the first instance, as they generally work on behalf of the author. They may request a fee, or they may be happy that you acknowledge in your own materials where these come from (to not do so is plagarism, and is illegal). In relation to copyrighting your own, a symbol is OK, as is sending a copy to yourself. However, if you intend to publish, you need to send copies to the British Library.
    If anyone else has been invloved in putting your materials together (layout, artwork, ideas, etc), they too have copyrights.
    Read handbook of copyright in British Publishing Practice from Cassell.
    Good Luck!


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