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Understanding Copyright

We want creators to keep creating and publishers to keep publishing. Find out how copyright – and the deserved revenue it generates – allows them to do so.

Why is copyright important?

It’s all about doing the ‘right’ thing. Content creators – such as authors, musicians and artists – put hard work into their published pieces, so that we can enjoy and be educated by their creations. All they ask in return is credit for the time and resources they’ve spent, so that, if they wish, they can earn a living from their skills and expertise.

Copyright gives them this right.

It also helps them when working with publishers. If they choose to give these publishers exclusive rights to their work, copyright allows them to ensure their agreement is mutually beneficial.

And copyright helps publishers, too. Because they invest time and money into publishing creators’ works, copyright is in place to provide an incentive that, in turn, enriches the creative world. Publishing new authors, especially, is a risky business – even with that protection, as 20% of what is published finances the other 80%. But, without creators and their publishers feeling able to take such risks, we would not have many of the greatest literary works.

From a content user’s perspective, copyright also provides us with a set of guidelines that enable us to access and share published material in a way that is fair and easy to understand. We all want to do right by Irish creators and publishers. By following the rules of copyright, we’re helping the industry survive and thrive.

Basic principles of copyright

  • Copyright applies automatically when a work is created.
  • Copyright is not in an idea, but in the expression of that idea in words, symbols or images.
  • The © is only a reminder and not a requirement.
  • Copyright lasts beyond an author’s lifetime – 70 years beyond, in fact.
  • Everything original that is created is protected by copyright.

In terms of these original works, they include:

  • Print material – books, journals, magazines, newspapers
  • Digital material – websites, ebooks, emagazines, ejournals, enewspapers, blogs, audio-books, podcasts
  • Computer programmes
  • Dramatic performances – plays, choreography, film scripts, recordings
  • Music – compositions, sheet music, performances, recordings
  • Art – drawings, paintings, maps, charts, diagrams, photographs and much more
  • Page layouts
  • Unpublished works