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Copyright – Protecting Creative Work

Copyright is very much part of our everyday life; it covers the music we listen to, the books we read, the movies we watch.  It is the protector of artistic expression and the means by which law encourages creativity.

Copyright comes into play as soon as the work is put onto paper, film is recorded, etc.  However, while an idea is still only in a person’s mind, no protection is afforded to it whatsoever; it is the form of expression of ideas that is protected, not the ideas themselves.


Copyright law in Ireland is governed by the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000-07.

What is protected by Copyright?

There are four main categories of works that are protected by copyright law.

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works;
  • Sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes;
  • Typographical arrangement of published works; and
  • Original databases

Author’s Skill, Labour and Judgment

In order to be covered by copyright the creator of the work has to exercise skill, labour and judgement in its creation, then it would be original and protected by copyright. In other words, the “sweat of the brow” has to be shed.

Who Owns Copyright?

The owner of copyright is the author and/or creator, the person/persons who have intellectual input in the product.

Period of Protection

How long the work is protected differs depending on the type of work. For example, the protection for literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works lasts the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

Formalities for Protection

There is no registration necessary for copyright, it is automatic. Once the appropriate criteria are met (falling within the subject matter and being a qualified person), the protection is afforded. The protection is free and automatic. There are no formal requirements to gain copyright protection in Irish law.

Rights of the Copyright Holder

Once the creator of the work has gained copyright they attain certain rights in relation to their work. Copyright is certainly no misnomer as it denotes perfectly the rights it grants. The creator of the work has the exclusive right of distributing to the public, performing/showing/broadcasting the work or, in other words, the exclusive right of copying the work, or using their work otherwise. And since copyright is a personal property right, it can be transferred and these rights can be sold to another.


The copyright in a work is infringed by a person who, without the licence of the copyright owner, uses or distributes the work in any way. There are certain exceptions to this.

The Copyright Notice ©

A copyright notice is not necessary as the protection is automatic. However, this notice is often used to remind people that a work is covered by copyright and to ward off anyone who might infringe such copyright. A notice would normally consist of the “©” symbol, followed by the name of the copyright holder and the date of the creation of the work.

Contact Us

Derek Walsh

Derek Walsh

For further information contact Derek Walsh at [email protected] or call 061 414 355 or 061 432 353.

The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We advise people to always seek specific expert advice for their individual circumstances.

Published On: July 27, 2017

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