Copyright applies to the material expression of an idea or information. Copyright is not intended to give anyone ownership or rights in ideas, information, facts, styles or techniques (although other laws may protect these things).
Once a work is expressed in a material form, such as in writing, it is protected - even if it has not been published and whether or not it has a copyright notice or symbol attached to it. Material that is recorded or published on the internet is protected to the same extent as material recorded or published in other forms.
To qualify for copyright protection, a work must be original. Originality has little to do with literary or artistic quality or merit when used in the copyright context. It is generally sufficient if the work is original to the author. The author must have expended skill, judgement or labour sufficient to make the work original, which is often a question of degree depending on the circumstances.
Protected categories of work
The categories of work protected by copyright include:
- Literary works material that is written, spoken, or sung, including words of a book, song, poem, magazine, article, speech. This category also includes tables, compilations and computer programs.
- Dramatic works including plays, works of dance or mime, film scenarios, scripts.
- Artistic works including paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, photographs.
- Musical works musical compositions (scores and sheet music).
- Typographical works the typographical arrangement of words and associated elements in published editions, such as books, magazines, journals, newspapers, posters, and websites.
- Sound recordings, films and communication works (such as broadcasts and internet transmissions) are other categories of work protected by copyright.
More than one type of work in a published edition
In a published edition, there can be several categories of copyright work. There may be a separate copyright in:
- the literary work or works (such as each short story or novel);
- the typographical arrangement of the published edition;
- artistic works, such as each illustration, photograph or diagram.
Each work incorporated in a published edition may have a different copyright owner and a different copyright duration. It is important to be aware of the separate copyrights in a published edition so as to protect and optimise the value of your copyright and effectively manage risk when using third party material.