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Copyright, Scanning and Photocopying: Copyright

Information on Copyright

Please note that the information on this area of the guide relates to print to print copying unless otherwise indicated. Academic staff wishing to scan material for inclusion in Hub modules should consult the information under the "Scanning" tab.

In addition the information given in this pages does not constitute legal advice, and if in any doubt, further clarification of the law should always be sought from the relevant organisations.

QMU also has its own copyright policy which can be consulted here.

What is copyright?

Copyright is the right of the creator of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic ("LDMA") and other similar works to prevent others from copying, publishing or performing those works. There is also the moral right to be identified as the author of the work, and to object to derogatory treatment of the work.

Other materials are also protected by copyright legislation, including software, video recordings, slides, maps, newspapers and copying to and from electronic format.

Copyright is automatic; you do not have to register it, nor is the © symbol necessary.

For how long does copyright last?

Copyright protection for literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is provided

  • to the author of the work, or person who created it, during their lifetime
  • to the executors for 70 years after the author's death
  • for the typographical arrangement of a published edition for 25 years from the date of publication

For films, copyright generally expires at the end of the 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last of the following persons die:

  • the principal director
  • the author of the screenplay
  • the author of the dialogue
  • the composer of the music created for and used in the film

For sound recordings, broadcasts, cable programmes and computer generated works copyright generally lasts until 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which they were first made, released or broadcast, or included in a cable programme service.

Why is copyright so important?

Copyright is a legal requirement on us all. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Acts, 1998 provides a clear legal framework that protects the creators of original works from unauthorised use, including copying, of their material.

It is important that all staff and students know of the limitations imposed, and permissions allowed, under the Act regarding the copying of copyright material.

How do I know if something is covered by copyright?

If you have been able to read, view or listen to a work it will have been created by someone and so is protected by copyright legislation, provided of course it has not expired, see above.

Who owns the copyright?

The first owner of copyright in any LDMA work is the author or creator of that work, unless the author was employed to create that work, in which case the employer is the first owner of the copyright. Ownership can be passed to someone other than the author. If this happens, the original author loses his commercial rights, but not his moral rights, which cannot be transferred (they can, however, be waived). See also the section on Copyright and authors.