copyright

What is copyright?

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Copyright is the legal term, which describes the rights given to authors/creators of certain categories of work. 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.

The owner of copyright is the author, meaning the person who creates the work. For example a photographer is the owner in the case of a photograph. However, as copyright is a form of property, the right may be transferred to someone else, for example, to a publisher. Where an employee in the course of employment creates the work, the employer is the owner of the copyright in the work, unless an agreement to the contrary exists.

Copyright is a property right and the owner of the work can control the use of the work, subject to certain exceptions. The owner has the exclusive right to prohibit or authorise others to undertake the following:

  • copy the work
  • perform the work
  • make the work available to the public through broadcasting or recordings
  • make an adaptation of the work.

Copyright takes effect as soon as the work is put on paper, film, or other fixed medium such as CD-ROM, DVD, Internet, etc. No protection is provided for ideas while the ideas are in a persons mind; copyright law protects the form of expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves.