The law of copyright protects certain classes of creative endeavour. Protected works are collectively termed 'copyright works'. If there is one area of law that webmasters need to come to terms with, it's copyright law.

The online law of copyright is the same as the off-line law. The website is conceptualised in English law as a collection of copyright works, legally distinct even if actually intermingled. Literary copyright protects website text, as well as HTML and program code; artistic copyright protects images and photos; musical copyright and sound recording copyright protect music hosted on a site; and copyright or database right (a close relative of copyright) may protect datasets of database-backed sites. The complexity of copyright protection in a single website can be daunting.

The centrepiece of UK copyright legislation is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This statute sets out details of when copyright arises, who owns copyright, how copyright can be transferred, and when copyright may be infringed. It is well drafted, and the starting point for research into most practical questions of UK copyright law.