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National College of Ireland


Copyright 2020: Copyright - The Basics

Copyright Info

Copyright is the legal term which the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the author/creator/originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material.

Copyright is a property right and the owner of the work can control the use of the work, subject to certain exemptions.  As copyright is a form of property the right of ownership may be transferred to someone else, such as a publisher.

However, as copyright is a form of property, the right may be transferred to someone else, for example, to a publisher

The owner has the exclusive right to prohibit or authorise others to undertake the following: 

  • copy the work
  • perform the work
  • make the work available to the public through broadcasting or recordings
  • make an adaptation of the work. 

Where an employee in the course of employment creates the work, the employer is the owner of the copyright in the work, unless an agreement to the contrary exists.


The Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 identifies copyright protection for:  

  • original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (traditionally called the “classical” copyrights);
  • film, sound recordings, broadcasts and the typographical arrangement of published editions (often called “related rights”, because they involve the exploitation of “classical” works);
  • computer software and non-original databases (despite their modest credentials as “creative” works) and
  • performances.

See also: Irish Patents Office: "What Is Copyright?"

Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Act, 2004

Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Act, 2007

Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, styles, techniques or information. For example, if you write an outline of your idea for a TV show, the outline itself will be protected by copyright. However, another person could write their own script using your general ideas without necessarily infringing copyright. The other person would only be infringing your copyright in the outline if they started copying enough of the way you had, for example, structured your plot.

Some “works” are too small or unoriginal to be protected as copyright works. For example, single words, names, titles, slogans and headlines are unlikely to be protected by copyright – although they may be protected in other ways, for example as trademarks.


 Book(s), Journals: - Copyright applies during the lifetime & for 70 years after the death of author/creator

 Film: Copyright protection expires 70 years after the last of the following dies, the director, the author of the screenplay, the  author  of the dialogue of the film, or the author of the music composed for use in the film

 Sound recordings: Copyright protection expires 70 years after the sound recording is made or if it is made available to the public then 50  years from the date it was made available to the public

Computer generated worksCopyright protection expires 70 years after the date it is first made available to the public





   Broadcast: Copyright protection expires 50 years after the broadcast is first transmitted


Copyright & Education

A work may be used by anyone for the purpose of research or private study without the permission of the author, provided the use is conducted in a way which does not prejudice the rights of the copyright owner.

The work may also be used for criticism or review or for reporting current events, with the same proviso, and provided further that the use of the work is accompanied by an acknowledgement identifying the author and the title work.

This bundle of exceptions is known as “fair dealing”. Although the legislation does not state the fact, it is unlikely that the making of multiple copies of a work will ever qualify as fair dealing.

The use of author’s works for certain educational purposes is permitted. These include the use of the work in examinations, and the inclusion of a short passage from the work in an anthology for schools.

What is Creative Commons and what do you do?

Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. Our legal tools help those who want to encourage reuse of their works by offering them for use under generous, standardized terms; those who want to make creative uses of works; and those who want to benefit from this symbiosis. Our vision is to help others realize the full potential of the internet. CC has affiliates all over the world who help ensure our licenses work internationally and who raise awareness of our work.

Although Creative Commons is best known for its licenses, our work extends beyond just providing copyright licenses. CC offers other legal and technical tools that also facilitate sharing and discovery of creative works, such as CC0, a public domain dedication for rights holders who wish to put their work into the public domain before the expiration of copyright, and the Public Domain Mark, a tool for marking a work that is in the worldwide public domain. Creative Commons licenses and tools were designed specifically to work with the web, which makes content that is offered under their terms easy to search for, discover, and use.

Creative Commons - Ireland



Do not make multiple copies of information,  without getting express written or legal permission from the Copyright Holder or asking the Library to obtain permission (paid or request.   

This includes;

  • Journal Articles or a number of Journal Articles from the same issue or volume
  • Chapter or Chapters or indeed the complete copying of book(s)
  • Items accessed either in print or online
  • Photographs, film or multi media
  • Thesis or Final Year Reports [Student]

If in Doubt do not do ASK the Library


Copyright for Students

Copying, printing and downloading are a part of the student experience and college life.  During your studies you will need to photocopy, print and download materials for your course and for research, such as journal articles - book chapters, websites, photos etc...  Under Irish Copyright Law it is Your Responsibility to keep within the law when copying, printing or downloading material(s). 

NCI has an obligation to ensure that there is College wide compliance with the terms and conditions of the Irish Copyright Act etc..


  • Only copy up to 5% of a book, or 1 chapter from a book. Don’t copy a summary chapter where it encapsulates the entire work.
  • Only copy up to 5% of a journal volume, or 1 article from a single issue of a journal 
  • Only create a digital copy of a graphic or visual work when it is integral to the text being copied.
  • Display full bibliographical citation on the copied work - reference your sources if you use it cite it
  • Only create copies for educational and for non-commercial purposes
  • Only store  digital copies for back-up purposes, and not for creating an electronic database/ library/ other information repository

Mary Buckley Librarian

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Mary Buckley
The Librarian, Norma Smurfit Library National college of Ireland Mayor Street IFSC Dublin 1 Ireland
(+353) 1 4498509


The information contained within this guide is for general guidelines only, and an interpretation of current copyright issues. It is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.