What is copyright and why is it important?

What is copyright?

When a person or company creates material – be it a work of literature, art, music, film or broadcast – copyright gives that person the right to control the use of their material. Copyright is designed to protect the creator of the content, and is designed to inform who can copy, adapt or distribute that work without permission and when this is allowed.

Copyright can protect a number of types of content including novels, computer programs, song lyrics, newspaper articles, music, photographs, maps, logos and film. Copyright also applies to any medium including the internet and applies to downloading, sharing, and streaming.

Why is copyright important?

Copyright laws protect those who work in the creative industries, allowing them to be rewarded fairly and to continue to create music, film and TV programmes.

It also means that the creators are able to invest in new content, albums, films and TV.

How can you protect your copyright?

You might have created your own content that you want to protect and a useful step to take when material you wish to protect is published is to mark it with the international copyright symbol © followed by the name of the copyright owner and year of creation. 

If you have created content and wish to share it widely online a Creative Commons license could help. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organisation offering free, easy-to-use copyright licenses that provide a simple, standardised way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work. This works alongside copyright and enables you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.