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Are you an Irish-resident author? Here’s everything you need to know about protecting your work.

Authors’ questions – answered

A work is protected automatically from the time it is first written down or recorded in some way, provided that it has resulted from the creator’s skill and effort and is not simply copied from another work.

Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, styles, techniques, data or information. For example, if you write an outline of your idea for a TV show, the outline itself will be protected by copyright. However, another person could write their own script using your general ideas without necessarily infringing copyright.

There is no system of registration for copyright protection in Ireland, as copyright arises automatically on the creation of an original work. You do not need to publish your work, to put a copyright notice on it or to do anything else to be covered by copyright – protection is free and automatic.

A work is protected automatically from the time it is first written down or recorded in some way, provided that it has resulted from the creator’s skill and effort and is not simply copied from another work.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be difficult for an author to prove that he or she had created a work at a specific point in time. Proof of this fact might be needed in an action for infringement. An author can create such proof by sending a copy of the work to himself or herself by registered post, keeping the post office receipt and leaving the envelope unopened.

Yes. The Copyright Act provides that copyright in a work may be owned jointly if two or more authors have made indistinguishable contributions to the creation of a work. Joint ownership of copyright can also be provided for in an agreement between the authors or contributors.

A copyright notice does not need to be placed on a work before it is protected by copyright. However, it is prudent to do so as it reminds people that the work is protected and identifies the person claiming the rights. The notice usually consists of the symbol © followed by the name of the author and the date of creation.

If you are an employee (rather than a freelancer or independent contractor) and it was part of your duties to create the work, then your employer will own copyright in the work, unless you and your employer had an agreement to the contrary. Make sure at the outset that both you and your employer are clear what the arrangement is so there is no room for misunderstandings later.

As the author of the work you will own copyright in it, unless you assigned copyright to the commissioning company (an assignment must be in writing and signed by you to be legally effective). The company will generally have the right to use the work for the purpose for which it was commissioned. Make sure when you agree to undertake the work that a formal agreement is in place that clarifies ownership and rights.

Authors cannot prevent the copying, or other use of their work, if that use is covered by one of the exceptions to copyright, such as copying for research or private study, criticism, parody, review or reporting of current events. The use of works for certain educational purposes is also permitted under a copyright exception. Learn more about exceptions

An exception to copyright for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche was introduced by the Copyright & Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019. This means that in principle it is possible to create parodies that reuse works protected by copyright without having to obtain permission from the rightsholder(s). However, it is important to note that the use of copyright works for parody purposes is only allowed insofar as it can be considered ‘fair dealing’. Learn more about Fair Dealing

Most publishing agreements allow the publisher’s rights in a work to revert to the author when the relevant publication goes out of print/is no longer made available by the publisher. They also revert to the author when a publisher stops trading or goes into administration unless the backlist is taken over by another publisher. Learn more about finding the copyright owner

The first thing to do is to flag the infringement. By contacting the person or company who has used your work you give them a chance to stop. You can either ask them to stop using your work, or you can give permission for them to continue. If the infringement continues, you can seek legal advice. It is also worth investigating if the infringer is infringing the rights of any other authors, as joint action can generally be more powerful, especially if, for example, you are wanting Amazon to take down an infringing work.

Relationship between author and publisher – what does the author have to decide?

When an author creates an original work it is automatically their copyright. If they then wish to publish their work, they can do this themselves via many established and new self-publishing channels (this is the ‘author pays’ model) or they can work with a traditional publisher (the ‘publisher pays’ model), in which case they will be required to assign relevant rights to the publisher.

The key right will be ‘exclusive licence to publish’ without which the publisher cannot take the financial risk necessary to invest in a publication. ‘Exclusive’ means only this publisher can publish this work by the author. This can be restricted to a certain territory (Republic of Ireland only vs. world/other) and to certain languages (English language vs. all/some). These are important decisions for the author to agree with their publisher, or for an agent to make on their behalf.

The publisher may also ask for ‘subsidiary rights’ which can include serialisation in newspapers, translation rights, televisation/film. In giving these rights to a publisher, the author must be sure they will be properly remunerated for any of the publisher’s successes and that the publisher will be actively seeking rights deals on their behalf.

In return the publisher will need a ‘warranty and indemnity’ that the author’s work is original (no plagiarism) and contains nothing known to be untrue (if a work of nonfiction) or defamatory; if the author has in fact copied their work from another copyright work but not admitted that, they will be liable for any damage claims that arise – not the publisher.

For advice on publisher contracts, we recommend visiting the Irish Writers Union.


Copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of an author, so ICLA also pays royalties to the beneficiaries of estates. If you are the relative of an author who has died, it is important to let our team at ICLA know the details of the estate and how royalties should be paid to it.

You may also want to tell us who should be contacted if anyone is seeking permission to use the deceased author’s work. While ICLA does not give legal advice, we do endeavour to find and connect rightsholders, so that permissions and other copyright issues can be resolved.

The Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS)

The UK collective management organisation ALCS represents writers of all genres, from textbook authors and freelance journalists to poets and radio dramatists. ALCS membership is open to all types of writers and their successors across the print sector. They collect royalties for authors from cable retransmission, private copying and educational recordings.

As ICLA has a reciprocal agreement with ALCS, Irish-resident authors can have their ALCS income paid through ICLA, which means that they receive this in euros, and that no withholding tax will be deducted.

Public Lending Right (PLR)

PLR in Ireland

Public Lending Rights (PLR) allow authors to receive payment under PLR legislation for the loans of their books by public libraries. Under PLR, authors who are resident in the EEA and have registered their books can receive payment for loans made by public libraries.

The Copyright Bill 2007 introduced the framework for a Public Lending Right Scheme in Ireland in November 2007. Public Lending Right in Ireland was established by the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Act 2007. The Act enabled the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to establish a Public Lending Remuneration scheme. The regulations establishing the scheme, Statutory Instrument No. 597 of 2008, were signed on 31st December 2008.

The Scheme in Ireland was run by the Library Council from 2009 to 2012. In 2012 the Library Council announced enhanced cooperation with PLR UK for the efficient running of the scheme. Since December 2012, Irish PLR payments to Irish resident authors have been facilitated through a service agreement between ICLA and PLR UK and payments are made in February each year. For more information visit PLR Ireland.

PLR from UK library loans

Public Lending Right payments from the UK scheme to authors residing in Ireland are paid in February of each year. Statements are issued directly from PLR UK to authors in January and amounts are shown in euros. The minimum payment is £1 and the maximum is £6,600. Since 2004, UK PLR payments to Irish resident authors have been facilitated through a service agreement between ICLA and PLR UK and payments are made in February of each year.

Dual application

The PLR Ireland and PLR UK schemes require registration. You must register or update your registration with new titles by 30th June for payment the following February. Authors can apply for both the Irish and UK PLR schemes using the dual registration forms.

PLR from other countries

ICLA currently receives Public Lending Right remuneration for Irish-resident authors from schemes in Austria, France, Lithuania, and the Netherlands. All amounts are paid in the February author distribution. Remuneration from these countries does not require registration.