Emails could become protected by copyright - that's according to the online legal experts at OutLaw.com . A high-court ruling this week declared business letters to be the subject of copyright. The website claims email could fall under the same restrictions, particularly with regard to forwarding emails or copying them into other emails.

The debate centres around a case between two roofing contractors. The defendant was accused of an act of infringement after distributing a letter produced by the claimant, on the grounds that the letter was an original body of work.

In his ruling, the Honourable Mr Justice Kitchin said, "I have no doubt that the letter's production did involve a substantial degree of independent skill and labour, and that it does justify the subsistence of copyright."

Under the copyright law, a body of work that is considered original is automatically protected from reproduction. An original work is defined as a unique expression of an idea.

If the new judgment is applied to email, we could be looking at big changes in how emails are used in businesses in the future.