Copyright Law

Copyright is a legally enforceable property right that makes it possible for the holder of that right to profit from a work. It does this by preventing others from exploiting the work without the rightsholder’s say so for a period of time. Copyright protects the expression of ideas but not the idea itself. For a work to gain copyright protection it has to be original and should be expressed in a fixed form – for example, in writing (whether in print or electronic). Copyright becomes effective at the time of the creation of the work. It arises automatically in the US. Individuals who want to reproduce the original work of others may need to seek permission to do so.

Who Owns Copyright?

The creator of a work usually owns the copyright of that work. However, like any form of property, copyright can be bought, sold, inherited or leased. In the case of a book, the author will usually be the rights holder, though they may grant an exclusive licence to the publisher to publish the book. Alternatively, the author may sell their copyright to the publisher. This means that some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the first owner.

In contrast, the moral rights accorded to film directors and the authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death.

Moral rights are concerned with the protection of the reputation of the author. In particular the right to be attributed for the creation of a work, and the right to object to defamatory treatment.

What Can I Copy

– No more than a chapter of a book OR

– One article from a journal OR

– One case report from a Law Report OR

– No more that 10% of a given work, whichever is greater.

It is important to note that the legal permissions that allow you to reference third-party material in your academic work do not extend to the work if you choose to publish it. In this case you must seek permission from the sources to use their work.

Fair Dealing

Fair dealing is a legal term used to establish whether a use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright. There is no statutory definition of fair dealing. Fair dealing requires a judgment to be made. Every instance of copying is different. Where the use would not adversely affect sales of the work, and where the amount copied is reasonable and appropriate to the context, then it is likely that it can be considered fair dealing.