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All you need to know about copyright and using resources legally

What is copyright?

Copyright is essentially the right to:

  • Copy a work
  • Adapt a work
  • Make copies of a work available for distribution
  • Broadcast a work
  • Show, play or perform a work in public

When is copying legal?
  • Under the provisions of 'fair dealing'
  • Under the terms of a licence, either individual or collective
  • When the copyright owner has given personal permission
What is covered under copyright law?
  • Any original work that has been written down or recorded in any form (it doesn't need to have been published)
  • Works copied using mobile technologies - including streamed materials, and material loaded onto an e-reader
  • Copyright doesn't have to be registered - it automatically exists
  • Thoughts and ideas aren't protected
  • Copyright on works made during a course of employment by an employee generally belongs to the employer unless specifically agreed otherwise 
How long does copyright last?
  • Generally, 70 years from the death of the author/creator (though bear in mind that these may be multiple)
  • Sound recordings: 70 years after their creation, broadcast or release
  • Typographic arrangements (including music scores): 25 years after creation
  • Work published in a country other than the EU or US may be subject to a shorter period of copyright (50 years)

Some exemptions

  • Accessible copies for people with disabilities
  • Copies of works on public display (e.g. statues)
  • Temporary off-air recordings (e.g. TIVO) - this is known as 'time-shifting'
  • Temporary copies (e.g. faxes)
  • Abstracts (but not from an abstracting bulletin)
  • Reading in public (as long as the author is acknowledged)
  • 'Non-exact' copies (i.e. copying by hand)

Moral Rights

Authors also have 'moral rights':

  • To be identified as the author of the work
  • To object to derogatory treatment of the work
  • To object to false attribution of the work

- unless copyright is owned by the author's employer.

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