Do you know what to do if somebody copies your work? Do you know the difference between design rights and copyright? Do you know who owns the copyright to your images?

Understanding basic intellectual property is crucial for creatives. Not just to avoid that somebody might copy your work, but also to stop you from infringing other people’s IP – often without realising it. Did you realise for example that you need written permission if you want to use a quote from somebody else in your work?

But it’s not just about protecting yourself. Your IP rights can make you some serious money! Could you license your work?

However very few art schools teach intellectual property and copyright beyond the basics. And to be honest it’s pretty complicated set of laws!

In this blog post The Design Trust shares the best intellectual property and copyright resources for creatives in the UK. Some books first and then organisations that you can turn to.

Copyright Law For Artists, Photographers and Designers – Gillian Davies

This is a fairly short book (only 100 pages) but it’s super helpful to give you the basics of what intellectual property is. Gillian is a fine artist and printmaker as well as a legal editor, giving her a unique insight into copyright law for creatives.

Copyright Law For Artists, Photographers and Designers is a very practical introduction and one of the best intellectual property and copyright resources out there. It’s full of practical and real-life examples. It shares the often quirky nature of intellectual property and clearly explained case studies across all the different creative disciplines.

As the book was published in 2010 it doesn’t deal in great detail with the current challenges of online infringement and social media, but it gives a very thorough but practical introduction to intellectual property for creatives.

Do/Protect – Legal Advice for Startups – Johnathan Rees

This short book, Do/Protect by the DO Book Company covers all aspects of legal advice, from legal structures, to raising finance, contracts, e-commerce and social media and also intellectual property rights. It’s an easy and accessible read.

Intellectual property organisations:

ACID – Anti Copying In Design

ACID is a membership organisation that provides advice to its mostly creative business members, and it’s a campaigning and lobbying organisation around intellectual property issues. They provide free legal advice to members. Using their logo on your website or during events can deter copyright infringement.  And you can use their secure IP bank to provide 3rdparty evidence if you have been copied. The also publish a useful regular newsletter and magazine, and regularly attend and host events and workshops around intellectual property issues.


ArtQuest’s website has very useful Art Law section on their website explaining law for creatives, including intellectual property rights, contracts, legal resale rights. ArtLawTV is a series of short videos with interviews around IP issues.

The AoI – Association of Illustrators

The AoI is the main membership organisation for illustrators and as part of your membership you can get free IP advice.

Briffa & Co

Margaret Briffa set up Briffa & Co, a specialist IP law firm for creative businesses, in 1995 in London. They work very closely with other IP organisations such as ACID. On their website you can find various useful blog posts, short videos and other intellectual property and copyright resources, and you can book a free consultation session there too.

British Library IP Centre

The British Library IP Centre regularly organises intellectual property workshops and masterclasses in their Central London location, where you can also go for free confidential 121 advice. The have got some good basic articles on their site on how to protect your work,copyright, patent, trademarks, registered and unregistered rights. One of the best intellectual property and copyright resources that are available for free.

DACS – Design And Artists’ Copyright Society

The Design and Artists Copyright Society is the UK’s leading copyright and collecting society for artists and visual creators. It provides rights management services for artists, beneficiaries and heirs, through pay back, artist’s resale rights and copyright licensing. You can find useful fact sheets and blog posts about licensing and resale rights on their website.

The IPO – Intellectual Property Office

The IPO is the official UK government’s body responsible for intellectual property and one of the best online intellectual property and copyright resources available. On the website you can find useful articles about IP as well as online training and tools, and a two-day masterclass into intellectual property that being hosted across the UK.

Are you looking for international IP advice? What to do as a British designer or creative in China for example, or elsewhere? The IPO has got so called ‘IP Attaches’ who work very closely with local British Embassies such as Beijing or in India. You can often contact them directly by phone or email, and send specific queries too. You can get their details from the IPO information desk.

The IPO also runs a mediation service for IP disputes, which is an alternative way to resolve issues and it’s often quicker and cheaper than going to court. You can find more information about their mediation service here.

Have you used these intellectual property and copyright resources yourself? Do you know of other books or organisations that are helpful in this area of intellectual property? Then do let us know below in the comments.

Originally published on The Design Trust.