Copyright forms part of the family of intellectual property rights (IPR) which also includes trademarks, patents, design rights and rights in databases.
In the UK, the current copyright legislation is based upon the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988. The legislation has also been supplemented by subsequent directives derived from Europe and international conventions and treaties. Recent changes in legislation include those found in the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998.
In the case of artistic works created by known British, European and American artists, the length of copyright protection lasts for the lifetime of the artist plus seventy years from the end of the calendar year in which he or she died.
Digital copyright protects digital material that satisfies the same copyright qualification criteria as are applied to print. It applies if a new work is ‘born digital’ rather than taken from any pre-existing work in another media, or if it is exclusively created from material which applies only to the copyright holder. Digital copyright will last for the duration of the material's print equivalent (see above).