Copyright is the term given to a person or organisations legal right over the use of any original content or material produced by them and how it can be used by third parties. Such material might include (but is not necessarily limited to) Artwork such as paintings, Manuscripts or Literature, Images such as design work or photography, music or sound clips or videos. In short, Copyrighting your original content or material means that you the owner have exclusive rights over who can:
Of course, Copyright laws may vary significantly around the globe and in reality there is no one global version. That said, many Western based communities subscribe to the “Berne Convention” which was formed in 1886 and establishes a basic set of legal principals which can be applied across many borders. Countries / communities that generally subscribe to these principals include the USA; the EU; Australia; Canada and of course, the United Kingdom (UK).
There may still be some subtle differences even with countries / communities that subscribe to the Berne Convention principals. In the United Kingdom (UK) Copyright law comprises the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended which protect your original content or material automatically without the need to apply for or to register such work. In the UK, copyright generally expires 70 years after the death of the creator, with some exceptions. Books, plays, music, works of art and films for example all have 70 years of copyright after the death of their creator, or the last collaborator of the work. For broadcasts, however, it is 50 years from when the broadcast is first aired.
Trademarks differ from Copyright Content or Material in that unlike Copyright material which covers tangible material or creative works, they relate to Logos, Slogans and / or a unique Brand Identity. Trademarking operates in a similar fashion to Copyrighting in as much as it comes into force the minute you start using it along with your goods or services.