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Copyright Overview

Written by Owen Ross on 07 December 2011

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The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it (for the life of the author plus 70 years or 50 years after it was created, depending on the type of the work). Where literary (text), dramatic, musical or artistic works are made by an employee in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work subject to any agreement to the contrary.


For copyright to exist the work must be original. Original means that the work must originate from its author and must not be copied from another work. The originality relates to the expression of the thought (not the inventiveness of the thought itself). The standard of originality is low and depends on the author having expended sufficient independent skill, labour and judgment to justify copyright protection for the result.

Acts restricted

Acts restricted by copyright in a work are to copy the work, to issue copies of the work to the public, to communicate the work to the public; to make an adaptation of the work or do any of the above in relation to an adaptation or authorising another to do, any of the acts restricted by the copyright. The doing of an act restricted by the copyright in a work are in relation to the work as a whole or any substantial part of it either directly or indirectly. The making of an adaptation of the work is also an act restricted by the copyright in that work. Only an owner of copyright or the holder of an exclusive licensee can take an action for infringement of copyright or assign their accrued rights.


The remedies available for infringement of copyright include damages; an injunction; delivery up of infringing material; an account of profits; and costs.


The available defences for copyright infringement include proving the claimant is not the owner of the rights; fair dealing (for private study, critisim and review or reporting current events); incidental uses; educational uses; making backup copies.
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