International Copyright Laws
The UK is a member of many international agreements including the Berne Convention, which requires that the national law of each member state automatically extends minimum standards of copyright protection to nationals of all other member states.
Most Western European countries, and the USA and Russia, are now signatories of the Berne Convention. Under this agreement, you do not have to mark your work in any way for automatic protection to apply.
However, despite marking your work not being a requirement of the Berne Convention, it is sensible to mark your work with the international © symbol, followed by the name of the copyright owner and year in which the work was created.
In this way you can be identified as the copyright owner of the work and a person who wishes to use the work can contact you as well as broadly calculate whether the work remains in copyright.
The USA has an official register of copyright works, although registration is not actually needed to qualify for copyright protection in the USA (or indeed any country that is a signatory of the Berne Convention).
However if you do register your work you will be entitled to enhanced protection in the USA.
Protection abroad can also arise from obligations in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement.
This forms part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement and may protect your work automatically. Details of the TRIPS agreement and a list of these countries are on their website.
This business advice article is subject to Crown Copyright © 2012