Copyright

Ciaran Burke

Page written by AI. Reviewed by Ciaran Burke on January 25, 2024.

Definition

Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to the creators of original works, allowing them to control the use and distribution of their creations.

What is copyright?

It is a form of intellectual property protection that safeguards the rights of creators in relation to their work. Copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of a qualifying work and provides the creator with the right to determine how their work is used, reproduced, and distributed.

Copyright grants the creator or copyright owner exclusive rights to:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Distribute copies of the work
  • Perform the work publicly (in the case of literary, musical, and dramatic works)
  • Display the work publicly (in the case of visual arts and certain other works)
  • Create derivative works based on the original work

The duration of copyright protection varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of work. In many countries, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus a certain number of years. For works created by or for corporations, the duration may be based on the date of creation or publication.

While copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of a work, some jurisdictions allow creators to register their works with a government office. Registration can provide additional benefits, such as evidence of ownership and the ability to pursue legal remedies more easily in case of violation.

Copyright owners have the right to take legal action against individuals or organisations that violate their exclusive rights. This may involve seeking damages, injunctive relief, or other legal remedies to address unauthorised use or reproduction of their works.

Example of copyright

Imagine that an author writes a novel. The author automatically holds the copyright to the work as soon as it is created. This means that the author has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and display the novel.

Now, if someone else, like a publishing company or another author, wants to use or reproduce the novel they would typically need permission from the author. This permission might come in the form of a license, where the author grants specific rights for a defined purpose and duration. Without permission, reproducing or distributing the novel without consent would likely be a copyright violation.

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