The types of protected works
Copyright applies to a broad range of material or “works” made available in hard copy or digital form. In New Zealand, there is no definition of “work” in the Copyright Act, but the categories of work capable of copyright protection are defined as literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; the typographical arrangement of published editions; sound recordings; films; and communication works (such as TV/radio broadcasts and internet transmissions). Each of these categories are discussed in more detail elsewhere in this knowledge base.
Copyright work separate to the physical item
The essence of a copyright “work” is best understood by describing what it is not. A work is not a physical object such as a book, CD or painted canvas. These things are the products in which a copyright work may be manifested. A work is the intangible aspect – the product of an author’s creative or intellectual input, expressed in a material form. Copyright exists in a work separately and independently of the tangible object it is contained in. Buying a book means you acquire a property right in the physical item but not in the text (the literary work), images (artistic works) and design layout of the book (typographical arrangement).
There can be many works in a single item
There are usually several types of work in a single item or resource. A book, journal or computer database may contain separate stories, articles and software, illustrations, photographs and typographical arrangement – all of which are capable of copyright protection.