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dot Copyright is a legal property right that can be enforced to prevent the unauthorised use or copying of certain works, including:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
  • Databases
  • Computer programmes
  • Sound recordings, films,
  • Broadcasts, cable programmes,

dot The owner of copyright is the author, meaning the person who creates the work. For example, copyright in most of the Beatles songs would originally have vested in the authors of the songs, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but would subsequently have been assigned to their record company under the terms of their record contract. In the late 1990's, the copyright in the Beatles songs was bought by Michael Jackson who had the exclusive right to authorize the performance and copying of these songs.

The term of copyright protection depends on national law and the type of work involved. In Ireland, the term of copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is 70 years after the death of the author (on in the case of works having more than one author, 70 years after the death of the sole surviving author). Thus, copyright in the Beatles music in Ireland will last for 70 years after the death of Paul McCartney.

Copyright protection subsists as soon as the work is recorded on a recording medium. Thus, once a poem has been recorded on paper or a memory device of a computer, copyright protection will exist. The universal symbol indicating that a work is the subject of copyright protection is ©.