Crown copyright FAQs

Q. How will I know if material is Crown copyright?

A. Most published material will feature a Crown copyright statement © Crown copyright. If you are in doubt, it is advisable to check with us.

Copyright which has been assigned to the Crown will normally feature one of the copyright lines: © Controller and Queen’s Printer or © Queen’s Printer for Scotland.

Q. How long does Crown copyright last?

A. This depends on whether the work has been published.

Crown copyright work which has been published will have copyright protection for 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was published.

Unpublished works have a period of protection of 125 years from the end of the year in which the work was made or until 31 December 2039 (which is 50 years from the year in which the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 came into force).

Copyright in a work which has been assigned to the Crown lasts 70 years after the death of the person who created it.

Q. Do government departments have any responsibility for licensing Crown copyright?

A. All departments have delegated authority from the Controller of HMSO to authorise private sector organisations to publish official versions of material on their behalf. Departments also have authority to authorise the re-use of their departmental logos.

Most government trading funds have delegated authority to license the re-use of material that they originate. Departments which run photographic/film archives also operate under delegated authority as there is such a close link between the licensing and supply of prints, negatives and copies of films.

Q. Are databases automatically covered by Crown copyright?

A. No, databases enjoy separate protection under the Database Regulations. Generally, the database right is held by the person or organisation that has made the arrangements for the database to be created.

Q. What authority does the Queen’s Printer/Controller of HMSO have to manage Crown copyright and Crown databases?

A. The Queen’s Printer and the Controller of HMSO has been granted Letters Patent that authorise her to manage copyrights and databases owned by the Crown.