Business Law & Compliance

Published

A basic guide to copyright law

3 Mins

What is it?

Copyright is a property right which subsists in the following descriptions of work:

  • Original literary including software, dramatic, musical or artistic works;
  • Sound recording, films or broadcasts; and,
  • Typographical arrangements of published editions, such as newspapers or magazines.

Copyright does not protect ideas. Copyright only exists if the idea is fixed, such as in writing or in a photograph. It is not the idea that is protected but the expression of the idea itself, i.e. the book or the photograph.

Procedure for protection

Copyright automatically arises upon the creation of a work if it is a type of work capable of protection There is no system of registration.

Practical tips – it is advisable for the author of the work to:

  • Mark the work with a ©, the author’s name and the date of its creation. This should act as a deterrent to would be infringers; and,
  • Retain evidence of the date of first creation of the work. If the author is an employee acting in the course of his employment, it will also be helpful to record details of the author’s employment status.

Ownership

The first owner of the copyright in a work is the author of the work. However, where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright that arises – subject to any contrary agreement.

Owner’s rights

The owner of the copyright in a work has the exclusive right to:

  • Copy the work;
  • Issue copies of the work;
  • Rent or lend the work;
  • Perform, show or play the work;
  • Communicate the work to the public; and,
  • Make an adaptation of the work.

Duration of protection

The duration of copyright depends upon the nature of the work itself.

Works – Duration (subject to exceptions)

  • Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works – 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies
  • Sound recordings – 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the recording is made
  • Films – 70 years from the end of the calendar year in the last of the principal director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue, or the composer of music (specifically created for the film) dies
  • Broadcasts – 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the original broadcast was made. There is no copyright breach in a repeat broadcast
  • Typographical arrangements – 25 years from the end of the calendar year in which the edition was first published.

Image source

Share this story

Why employees quit (and what you can do to make them stay)
SMEs ambitious to grow ‘dramatically’ in next 2 years
Send this to a friend