Copyright, Designs and Patents Act

by Troy Carter

What is the Copyright, Design and Patents Act?

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 is a law that gives the creators of some types of media rights to control how they're used and distributed. Music, books, video and software can all be covered by copyright law. When you buy software, for example, copyright law forbids you from:

> giving a copy to a friend

> making a copy and then selling it

> using the software on a network (unless the licence allows it)

> renting the software without the permission of the copyright holder


Copyrights: protect the specific creative expression of an idea through any medium of artistic/creative expression – i.e., paintings, photographs, sculpture, writings, software, etc. A copyright protects your painting of a haystack, but it would not prohibit another painter from expressing their artistry or viewpoint by also painting a haystack.

Design / Patent

Patents: protect functional expressions of an idea – not the idea itself. A machines, method/process, manufacture, compositions of matter, and improvements of any of these items can be patented. Thus, I can patent a design for the nozzle on a rocket, or the method of making the rocket, or the method of making the rocket fuel, or the metal in which the rocket fuel is stored, or a new way of transporting the rocket fuel to the rocket. But I cannot patent the broad “idea” of a rocket.