What is Copyright?

What is copyright?

“Copyright” is the term used to describe the rights enjoyed by creators of original works.

Here are some relevant facts about Copyright:

  • Copyright is a form of intellectual property, applicable to original literary, musical, dramatic or artistic works, and in sound recordings, films, broadcasts and other creative works (a “Work”).
  • Copyright is usually owned by the creator or author of the Work.
  • Copyright can sometimes be shared amongst two or more co-creators, each of whom holds a set of rights to use or license the work. This means that each co-creator has an independent right to use and license the Work.
  • Copyright gives the owner the exclusive right to reproduce, copy, perform, communicate, adapt, synchronise, distribute, sell, license, and generally use and control how their Work is used. This would include adaptation or public performance of the Work, inclusion of the work in a broadcast, or distribution of the work both physically and on the Internet.
  • Because these rights are exclusive to the copyright owner, anyone wanting to do any of these things needs the permission of the copyright owner.

Copyright can exist in all sorts of things – for example, music, lyrics, photographs, artwork, books, speeches, TV programmes and movies.

What might appear to be a single work can include several different copyrights owned by various different people.  For example, a music track by a signed artist will often include separate copyrights in the composition, the lyrics, and the sound recording.

  • Copyright in the music and lyrics will usually be owned by the artist or music publishing company.
  • Copyright in the sound recording will usually be owned by the artist’s record label.

Use of that track, including any adaptation of the track or any uploading or sharing over the Internet, will require the permission of all of these copyright owners, either directly or through their representatives (for example, through a collecting society or performing rights organisation).

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