This section is intended as a general introduction to the complicated area of copyright law in Ireland. It is not an authoritative interpretation of the law. The act governing this area is the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000. Copyright is a legal right protecting the economic interests of people/organisations that create works of various kinds.  This right cannot be taken away from them nor can their works be used in any way without their permission. Copyright is also a moral right which includes the right of the creator to be identified as the creator of a work, not to have works falsely attributed to him/her or have his/her work falsely attributed to someone else.  It also ensures that the work of the creator cannot be changed or adapted without his/her permission. The creator (the author or authors) own the copyright and unless that right is given to a third party such as a publisher, the creator retains the right for his/her lifetime and depending on the format of the work involved, for a specified time afterwards. The owner of the copyright is referred to as the copyright holder. Copyright is established automatically by the fact of creating the work and is international.

The copyright holder is normally the creator of the work such as the author, editor, publisher, producer, director, photographer, artist, sculptor, database compiler and so on. If the work is created in the course of employment, the employer will normally be the copyright holder. This can vary from institution to institution so a researcher should always determine the copyright policy or IP (institutional repository) policy of his/her home institution particularly in advance of engaging in contractual agreements. The copyright holder is the only person who has the right to use and gain economically from the use of the work. Any other use must be with the permission of the copyright holder and if required, must include a payment to them. Subject to exemptions in the Copyright and Related Rights Act the copyright holder has the exclusive right to undertake, or allow to undertake, certain actions such as reproduction, making works available (broadcasting, lending), and adaptation (translations from one language to another, conversion to electronic formats).

Any expression of ideas or facts, once they are fixed in some way, has copyright protection. They are "fixed" in many kinds of ways such as writing it down, filming, recording it, printing it, painting, performing, broadcasting, and inputting on a database.  For example, copyright will attach to literary works, scholarly works, dramatic, musical and artistic works, computer programs, databases and websites. Within the law there is no definition of what is a work but normal common sense dictates what it is and there should also be an awareness that the situation may be more complicated than it seems. For example, the bringing together of a number of individual works may result in a database which will attract its own copyright. Moreover, the permission of the copyright holder must be obtained for an item to be in a collection otherwise it is a breach of copyright.


Useful links

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

The Irish Copyright Licensing Agency

CONUL - Consortium of National and University Libraries

CONUL Briefing Paper on Copyright

UCC: Copyright Law for Digital Teaching and Learning, May 2014

Sherpa-Romeo (publisher copyright policies and self-archiving)


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