Q. What is Copyright?
A. Copyright is the legal
term, which describes the rights given to authors/creators of certain
categories of work. Copyright applies to all sorts of written and
recorded materials from software and the internet to drawings,
photography, films and music.
Copyright protection extends to the following works
- original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
- sound recordings, films
- broadcasts, cable programmes
- the typographical arrangement of published editions
- computer programmes
- original databases
Q. How do I register my Copyright?
In Ireland, there is no registration procedure for owners of a
copyright work. The act of creating a work also creates copyright. It
is important that the originator of the work can show subsequently when
the work and consequential copyright were created. There are two ways
of doing this
- Deposit a copy of the work with an acknowledged
representative (who may be a bank or solicitor) in such as way as to
allow the date and time of the deposit to be recorded or notarised.
a copy of the work to oneself by registered post (ensuring a clear date
stamp on the envelope), retaining the original receipt of posting and
leaving the envelope containing the copyright work unopened thus
establishing that the work existed at that date and time.
Q. How long does Copyright last?
The Copyright protection for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic
works expires 70 years after the death of the author/creator. If the
copyright is still in force it would be necessary to get the permission
of the owner of the copyright to reproduce the work no matter what
language it is in.
It should be noted that the duration of
copyright in Ireland may differ from other countries e.g. the duration
for sound recordings in the USA is 95 years from the date it was made
available to the public whereas in Ireland, it is only 50 years.
Q. Do I always need permission to copy a copyright work?
There are certain very specific situations where you may be permitted
to do so without seeking permission from the owner. If what you want to
copy does not fall within the exemptions set out in the Copyright & Related Rights Act 2000,
you should consider purchasing the copyright or alternatively, as is
more usually the case, the copyright owner may licence you to use the
work for an agreed fee. Examples of exemptions are the playing of a
sound recording, film or broadcast before pupils in an educational
establishment for the purposes of instruction and the copying by
librarians and archivists of works which have been made available to the
Q. How do I know something is copyrighted?
It may have the © logo in a prominent position on the work together
with the name of the author and the year of first publication (e.g. ©
Walt Disney 1998).
Q. How does copyright work on the Internet?
In relation to the Internet, a 'notify and take down' approach is often
adopted whereby, if infringing material is being carried on a service
(for example, by an Internet service provider), and the rights
owners inform service providers that infringing material is being
carried on their service, the service providers will be asked and often
obliged to remove that material as soon as possible. In many
jurisdictions, including Ireland, court orders are being obtained by
rights holders to require internet service providers to prevent internet
users accessing certain websites which are known to allow copyright
material to be downloaded without the permission of the owners.
Q. How do I copyright computer programs or sound recordings?
Under the 2000 Act copyright is taken to exist as soon as it is
created. There is no registration process. However, in the event of a
doubt or a dispute, seek legal advice.
Q. If I have paid for someone else to create something, will I own the copyright?
it is specifically stated in the contract commissioning the work that
you or your business will own the copyright in the work that you have
paid for, ownership will vest in the the first owner of copyright which
will be the person or organisation that was asked to create the work.
the issue of ownership is not mentioned in the commissioning contract,
you will need to negotiate the transfer of the copyright to you. The
creator of the work will be under no legal obligation to transfer the
copyright to you. For it to have legal effect , an agreement about
transfer of ownership of copyright has to be in writing, signed by or on
behalf of the transferor.
Q. Must I get a copyright licence for use of music and sound recordings in my business?
Yes, if the material is covered by copyright. Copyright gives the
owner/creator of a work the opportunity to make a commercial gain from
the exploitation of his/her work. Composers, record companies,
musicians, etc. who own copyright will be represented by copyright licensing bodies
whose purpose is to collect royalties for the rightsholders they
represent. Therefore the use of a sound recording may require more than
one licence, because there are several different rights associated with
a sound recording. For example the Irish Music Rights Organisation
(IMRO) represents the authors and music publishers who own the copyright
in the lyrics and composition. Another licensing body, Phonographic
Performance Ireland Limited (PPI) represents the record companies who
own the copyright in the sound recording.
Q. What are moral rights associated with copyright?
The concept of moral rights in copyright works was introduced into
Irish law by the Copyright & Related Rights Act 2000. These moral
rights are: the paternity right (the right to be identified as the
author of the work); the integrity right (the right to prevent
mutilation, distortion or other derogatory alteration of the work) and
the right of false attribution (the right not to have a work falsely
attributed to you).