Managing your copyright

How to enforce your copyright


If all or a substantial part of your copyright work is used without your permission, your rights may have been infringed - unless the copying falls within the scope of one of the copyright exceptions.

Even a small portion of the whole work could qualify as a substantial part if it is 'qualitatively significant'. If you suspect copyright infringement, you may be able to do several things.


Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution and a way to resolve copyright disputes without going to court. The mediator's job is to help both parties work out possible solutions and come to an agreement.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has a mediation service and can supply a list of other mediation providers. For more information, contact the IPO Mediation Service on Tel 0300 300 2000 or you can email them at

Organisations representing copyright owners may also advise you on how to enforce your rights. See collecting societies and licensing bodies.

Copyright infringement cases

If you can't settle your copyright dispute through mediation, you can take civil action. The courts can:

  • grant an injunction to stop the other person further infringing your copyright material
  • award you damages
  • make the infringing party give up the goods to you

Counterfeiting and piracy

Deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale - known as copyright piracy - may be a criminal offence. It is similar to trade mark counterfeiting, and the two often overlap.

If you think that your copyright is being infringed on a large scale, you should inform the police or local trading standards. They can decide whether to take action, but will probably need your full co-operation, such as:

  • providing good intelligence about the crime
  • helping to identify infringing goods
  • helping prepare evidence
  • being prepared to appear in court

Even if the police or trading standards officers do not take any action, you could still consider a private criminal prosecution. However, should you proceed in this way, you may still pursue a civil action against the alleged infringer.

Read more about intellectual property crime.

If you suspect that your copyright may be at risk abroad, find out more about protecting copyright overseas.