Debitoor's accounting dictionary

Copyright - What is a copyright?

Copyright refers to the right that a creator or owner holds over intellectual property

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A copyright is a type of intellectual property right held by the creator or owner of a particular, unique work. It is marked by the © symbol, that you have likely seen before.

What can be copyrighted?

Works that qualify for copyright include: original art, music, literature, film, any content produced for online purposes or other written works. It also extends to databases and software.

A copyright aims to provide a level of protection for the owner by allowing them to take legal action if a work is copied or reproduced without permission.

In the UK, a copyright is automatically created and owned by the creator of the work. There is no need to apply or register a copyright. It also isn’t necessary to mark the work with the © symbol. The copyright is implied.

Most copyrights last from 25-70+ years. The time period is based on when the work is released/created and extends past the death of the creator/owner.

You can license a copyright in the event that you wish to sell it. To sell a copyright (also called an ‘assignment’), you need to create a formal, written document for the buying and selling parties to sign.

This document should also include information about ‘moral rights’ - in other words, whether it should still be officially attributed to you.


In the event that an individual or company uses your work without your permission, there are several steps you can take to defend your property.

You should first approach the party and attempt to come to an agreement regarding the use of your work. Making a deal could be the best and least complicated way to solve a copyright issue.

If the issue is still unresolved, you can use a mediator or take legal action. It can be considered a criminal offence to use copyrighted material without the permission of the owner. You can also take the case to court depending on how much you wish to claim.

Copyrights and accounting

From an accounting perspective, a copyright is classed as an (intangible) asset. Today, it is important and easy to include them in your business accounts.

Copyrights and Debitoor

In Debitoor, you can register your copyrights as an asset and track amortisation (depreciation) over time. Read more about copyrights, trade marks, and patents in our blog.

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