Producers Handbook


The legal and compliance department at Channel 4 do not advise on general, day to day, copyright clearance matters unless the query relates to one of the statutory defences to copyright infringement, for example 'fair dealing'.

Programme-makers and production companies have contractual responsibility for ensuring that all necessary rights clearances have been obtained for their programmes.

In the event of a copyright clearance query, programme-makers and producers should contact their allocated commercial or business affairs executive in the first instance.

For reference, below is a brief synopsis of the law of copyright and fair dealing. For detailed advice regarding fair dealing see 'Fair Dealing Guidelines'.


What is Copyright?

The law of copyright exists to protect people's creative endeavours so that they can properly benefit from their work. If such protection didn't exist and people were able to copy or sell or profit from another's work, there would be little incentive for people to create in the first place.

Copyright is the name for a collection of exclusive rights to do certain acts in respect of certain types of creative works. Virtually all creative works are protected, including: literary works (e.g. novels, newspaper articles, factual books, letters, computer programmes); all kinds of musical works; dramatic works (e.g. stage plays, dance); artistic works (e.g. paintings, photographs, sculpture); sound recordings (e.g. CDs, tapes); all types of films; broadcasts (there is separate copyright in a broadcast, in addition to any copyright in the creative content); cable programmes; and, published editions (the layout of a book or magazine). Copyright extends to almost any work, the creation of which took some endeavour. Copyright protects the form of the creative work, not the idea itself. There is no copyright in an idea (although an idea may be protected by the law of confidence - see 'Privacy, Confidence & Data Protection'); it must be in tangible form, for example in writing or some other permanent form.

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to do and authorise others to do the following:

  • copy the work, issue copies of the work to the public;
  • perform, show or play the work in public;
  • broadcast it or include it in a cable programme service;
  • rent or lend copies of it; and
  • make an adaptation of it or do any of the above in relation to an adaptation;
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