BBC Home
Explore the BBC


Guides: Media and the law

Last Updated: Thursday January 06 2005 17:24 GMT


Copyright laws stop people having their work unfairly copied or ripped off.

The laws protect things like writing, music, song lyrics, photos, drawings and films. A writer's words are protected but not their ideas. That means a message board user can invent their own boy wizard and write about the school he attends, but they can't copy out big chunks of Harry Potter.

What can you copy?

There are two big exceptions to the copyright rules.

1. If you are reporting on current events. That means if JK Rowling died the TV news could include a reading from Harry Potter.

2. The other big exception is for reviews. Somebody writing a review of a new book can include some examples of the writing.

How long does the protection last?

  • Written work - until 70 years after the author's death
  • Broadcast material - 50 years
  • Films - until 70 years after the director's death

Guide to Media and the law

BBC Homepage >> | CBBC Homepage >>

Meet the Team | Help | Contact Us | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy