Registering art and design work

Fact sheet P-26

Issued: 27th November 2009
Last amended: 18th March 2022
Fact sheet P-26: Registering art and design work
  1. What to register

    When registering copyright artwork you should submit copies of the work as evidence of the content of your creations. Do not send the original artwork. Your submission simply needs to be adequate to record the nature, content and design of your work, and what you actually submit will depend on the type of work you are registering.

    1. Artwork, plans or designs produced or stored electronically

      If the work exists as a computer file, then submitting a copy of the computer file is normally the best option. If the artwork was created using a software package that stores files in a proprietary format that cannot be opened by other applications, it may be advisable to include a version exported to a more common format (such as a PDF JPEG/JPG, PNG, SVG, TIFF, MS Office, etc.) to ensure future readability.

    2. Technical drawings, plans or designs on paper/printed materials

      For work that only exists on paper, if it possible to scan the work to an electronic format or take photos using a digital camera, the image files from your scanner or camera can be submitted during online registration or on a CD/DVD/BD/USB SSD or USB flash drive with a postal application.

      Work can also be submitted either as hard-copy prints, photos, or photocopies if a postal application form is used.

    3. Physical artwork, paintings, drawings, etc.

      If the work is a flat physical item such as a small painting you may be able to use a scanner to convert it to an electronic file.

      For most other items it is best to photograph your work using a digital camera and submit the image files. One picture should show the entire work and close ups of any detail not clear in the main photo can be included if needed. It is a good idea to include something in the images that gives an idea of scale; a person or a ruler are common choices.

      Work can also be submitted either as hard-copy prints/photos, or photocopies if a postal application form is used.

    4. 3D work like sculpture, jewellery, etc.

      For three dimensional items you should include photographs or plans of the work. Photographs are perfectly adequate to record the nature, content and design of your work and are an ideal way to register 3D items.

      There should be images showing the complete work from each angle; i.e. one from the front and back, plus sides if needed. You should also include close ups of any detail that is not clear in the main photos. It is a good idea to include something in one or more of the images that gives an idea of scale (i.e. a ruler). For small items it is fine to include several items in the same photograph.

      Copies of any plans/designs or technical drawing detailing the work are also acceptable.

  2. How to register

    Copyright registration can be carried out either online or by postal application.

    Online registration is cheaper and will provide immediate cover for your work.

    If there is a large amount of data, or if you have a slow or unreliable Internet connection, you may wish to consider a postal application instead.

    1. Registering by postal application

      If registering by post - simply send the copy of your work either on CD, DVD, BD, USB SSD, USB flash drive or as paper copies with your application form and payment.

    2. Registering online

      During online registration you will be asked to upload the files that make up your work.

      If you have a lot of files we strongly recommend that you take the following steps:

      • Create a directory on your computer to temporarily store the files.
      • Copy the files/images you wish to upload to the directory you just created.
      • Create an zip archive file from the directory (so you now have a single archive file containing your work); please see our instructions on how to create zip archive files for details of how to do this.
      • Upload this archive file when prompted during the online registration process.

      We will accept any type of compressed archive files, although we recommend that a non-proprietary format (i.e. .zip, .tar.gz) is used. As with all electronic files you should choose common formats to ensure that software to read the files will be available in the future.

      Please be patient while uploading as most domestic ADSL lines will upload at around 1-2MB/minute, see our upload advice page for more details.

  3. A collection of related pieces may be a single work.

    Sometimes a work may in fact be a number of items that are part of a larger project. For example a range of jewellery designs or a range of card designs. It is quite normal for designers to register a collection of designs as a single work and therefore pay one registration fee for the collection. In such cases you would simply enter a single title for the collection as a whole as the ‘title of work’ on the application form and submit all the designs that are part of that collection when registering.

    It is also possible to add updates to a registration as a project evolves over time (i.e. if new designs are added to an already registered range of card designs). Updates to an already registered work are charged at a reduced rate, for more details please see our Updating Copyright Registrations fact sheet.

  4. Common questions
    1. What resolution should images be for registration?

      The resolution of the image does not really matter. You should simply ensure that the resolution is high enough to clearly show the content you are seeking to register.

    2. Is registration also evidence of design rights

      Yes, though there are two types of design right, a ‘registered’ and ‘unregistered’ design right.

      A registered design right (which covers the work for a longer period) can be applied for at national level, typically via the national Patent Office of the country in question.

      Unregistered design rights are automatic (just like copyright) so a registration with ourselves will be evidence of the unregistered design right in the same way that it is evidence of copyright.

    3. What is the best format for images?

      JPG/JPEG files are a good format to use for images as they are generally smaller files, (due to compression), and can be read by most applications.