What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal right to reproduce, sell or license a creative work. In short, the right to copy.

Copyright automatically exists as soon as a creative work is available in a tangible form. This can be a book, an ebook, a CD, a DVD or another medium. Therefore, once you have written your song, your story, your drama, or created your painting or sculpture, then you are automatically the copyright owner.

However, in order to establish proof that you are the genuine creator of the work (the copyright holder) we strongly advise you to register your copyright. Register first, then publish!

Copyright gives the creator of an original work, in any medium, protection from that work being copied. These mediums include:

  • Artistic works
    e.g. Paintings, sculptures, photographs, diagrams, logos, architecture.

  • Literary works
    e.g. Books, poems, manuals, song lyrics, computer programs, databases.

  • Dramatic works
    e.g. Plays, mime, dance.

  • Musical works
    e.g. Songs, symphonies, operatic works, melodies.

  • Typographical Arrangements
    A typographical arrangement refers to the layout of a work such as a book or web site. This includes how words and pictures are arranged, fonts used for various texts, overall format etc. A typographical arrangement can have its own copyright protection even if the contents are already copyrighted.

  • Recordings (film or audio)
    Films and TV shows may have many different elements that have their own individual copyright protection such as musical compositions, dialogue, designs, screenplay etc. However, the producer/s would normally get the rights or permissions for these individually copyrighted elements and maintain ownership of copyright for the complete production.
  • Sound recordings of a work are considered to be separate from the work itself and can therefore have their own copyright protection.

  • Broadcasts
    A broadcast can have it's own copyright protection even though the elements - such as music, film clips, audio clips etc. - may have their own copyright. As with films, the producer/s of a broadcast would normally get the rights or permissions for these individually copyrighted elements and maintain ownership of copyright for the complete production.
    A broadcast can be audio or visual and can be transmitted via cable or by wireless methods (including satellite). Copyright law relating to broadcasts does not currently extend to internet transmissions.
No matter which medium the work is produced in, all other mediums are protected by copyright. For example, a photograph is protected from it being reproduced as a painting, a literary work is protected from it being recorded and reproduced as an audio work etc.
A copyright gives the owner the right to sell, perform or display the work, for both financial and non-financial gain; reproduce the work, in both the original medium or any other medium; create subsequent works based on the original.

A work protected by copyright should only be used with explicit permission from the copyright owner.

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