What is copyright? Can you register copyright? What steps can you take if your copyright has been infringed?
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 and within the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 the author has a very specific definition
|21.—In this Act, “author” means the person who creates a work and includes:|
|(a) in the case of a sound recording, the producer;|
|(b) in the case of a film, the producer and the principal director;|
|(c) in the case of a broadcast, the person making the broadcast or in the case of a broadcast which relays another broadcast by reception and immediate retransmission, without alteration, the person making that other broadcast;|
|(d) in the case of a cable programme, the person providing the cable programme service in which the programme is included;|
|(e) in the case of a typographical arrangement of a published edition, the publisher;|
|(f) in the case of a work which is computer-generated, the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken;|
|(g) in the case of an original database, the individual or group of individuals who made the database; and|
|(h) in the case of a photograph, the photographer|
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.
Rights related to Copyright
Rights are not restricted just to the creators of the works themselves but certain other rights may apply.
For example, the record company has certain rights in a sound recording of the performance of a song, in addition the author(s) of the lyrics and the music will also have certain copyrights. Similarly performing artists have certain rights in their performances. The legislation also provides for moral rights, such as the right to be acknowledged as the author of a particular work and also the right to object to derogatory treatment of that work.
The primary legislation governing copyright in Ireland is the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (No. 28 of 2000).
In Ireland, there is no registration procedure for owners of a copyright work.
Basically the act of creating a work also creates the copyright, which then subsists in the physical expression of the work.
Copyrights are protected by law and illegal use of these rights can be contested in the Courts, the technical term for this misuse is infringement.
The legislation provides for criminal offences and consequently infringers could face both civil liability and criminal convictions.
Professional advice should be sought by copyright owners with regard to the options and the remedies available where infringement of their work occurs.
It is most important that the originator of a work can show subsequently when the work and the consequential copyright were created as it may be necessary to commence or defend infringement proceedings, at some later stage.
One way of doing this is to deposit a copy of the work with an acknowledged representative who may be a bank or solicitor in such a way as to allow the date and time of the deposit to be recorded or notarised.
Alternatively, one may send 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.
The Copyright Notice and Symbol ©
It is important to show that copyright is claimed in a work. Works should be clearly marked to show who the copyright owner is and the date from which copyright is claimed.
The internationally recognised symbol © is normally used to indicate that a work is protected by copyright.
© Copyright Terry Gorry 2013.
Examples of more detailed copyright notices may be found in published versions of literary works. The inclusion of a copyright notice does not legally constitute proof of ownership, but does indicate a claim to copyright, which may prove useful if it is necessary to defend that claim or to deter possible infringement.
It is usually necessary to obtain permission to use copyright material. Persons with a copy of a work can look for an indication on the work regarding copyright. This can assist making contact with the author/ original creator of the work in order to obtain their permission to use the work for any act, which is prohibited by copyright legislation.
Length of Copyright Protection
The duration of copyright protection varies according to the format of the work. In respect of the following works the term of protection is:
Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works
Copyright protection expires 70 years after the death of the author/creator.
Copyright protection expires 70 years after the last of the following dies, the director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue of the film, or the author of the music composed for use in the film.
Copyright protection expires 50 years after the sound recording is made or if it is made available to the public then 50 years from the date it was made available to the public.
Copyright protection expires 50 years after the broadcast is first transmitted.
The typographical arrangement of a published edition
Copyright protection expires 50 years after the date it is first made available to the public.
Copyright protection expires 70 years after the date it is first made available to the public.
Chapter 3 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (No. 28 of 2000) deals in greater detail with the duration of copyright in Ireland.
Benefits of Copyright Protection
Copyright protection provides a vital incentive for the creation of many intellectual works.
Without copyright protection, it would be easy for others to exploit these works without paying any royalties or remuneration to the owner of the work. Copyright therefore encourages enterprise and creates a favourable climate to stimulate economic activity.
Copyright protection provides benefits in the form of economic rights which entitle the creators to control use of their literary and artistic material in a number of ways such as making copies, performing in public, broadcasting, use on-line, etc. and to obtain an appropriate economic reward.
Creators can therefore be rewarded for their creativity and investment.
Copyright also gives moral rights to be identified as the creator or author of certain kinds of material (known as the paternity right), and object to the distortion and mutilation of it.
An author’s right to object to the modification or derogatory action in relation to his or her work is known as an integrity right.
Chapter 7 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (No. 28 of 2000) deals in greater detail with moral rights applicable in Ireland.
Commissioned Work and Copyright
Prior to the Copyright and Related Works Act, 2000 the commissioner of certain types of work would own the copyright to that work.
That is no longer the case.
If you commission artistic work and wish to have the copyright transferred to you, it will be necessary to have a written agreement to do so.
In Irish law, the assignment of copyright in a work must be effected in writing and signed by the person assigning the copyright (section 120, Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000).
(3) An assignment of the copyright in a work, whether in whole or in part, is not effective unless it is in writing and signed by or on behalf of the assignor.
However, if an employee creates a work in the course of his/her employment, the owner of the copyright in that work will be the employer.
By Terry Gorry