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Copyright is the legal term, which describes the rights given to authors/creators of certain categories of work.


Copyright protection extends to the following works:


  • original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works,
  • sound recordings, films,
  • broadcasts, cable programmes,
  • the typographical arrangement of published editions,
  • computer programmes,
  • original databases"

From: Irish Patent Office, 2014. What is Copyright?. Patents Office.

Protection for copyright is automatic with the creation of original work, there is no need to register for copyright protection. The Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 lays out the rights of copyright owners and penalties for infringement of copyright in Ireland.

In a Nutshell

You can copy if...

  • you hold the copyright
  • you have permission from the copyright holder
  • the copyright has expired
  • the work is in the public domain
  • it's for judicial or parliamentary proceedings
  • it falls within “fair dealing”

Copyright Concepts

  • Moral Rights

These are the rights to claim authorship or paternity over a work and how that work is used is modified. If it is prejudicial towards the author than they maintain the right to object to the use - the right of integrity. 

  • Economic Right

Right of creator/owner to gain financial reward for the use or reproduction of their works.

  • Exclusive Right

Copyright owners have the exclusive right to exclude others from using their works without permission.

(For more details on rights read this document on Understanding Copyright and Related Rights by the World Intellectual Property Organisation)

  • Public Domain

In the public domain means that the work is no longer subject to any copyright limitations as a result of expiration of the copyright period or because the work preceded any copyright protection legislation. Bear in mind that a work or image publicly available online does not mean that it is free to reuse or that it is in the public domain.

  • Fair Dealing

Is an exemption to the right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In short, a work may be used by anyone for research purposes or private study without the permission of the author, as long as the use is performed in a way that does not bias the rights of the copyright owner. If works are used for review or criticism, the same stipulations apply, along with an acknowledgement to the author and title of the work.


The main legislation governing copyright in Ireland is the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 to which there have been many amendments up to the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has consolidated the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 and recent associated amendments up to 12 November 2021, in the Unofficial Consolidated Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (as amended). Please see links below for access to these Acts.

How much can you copy

  • 1 chapter from a book
  • 1 scene from a play
  • 1 poem or short story less than 10 pages in length
  • 1 article magazine/journal
  • 1 paper from conference proceedings
  • 1 report case from a volume of judicial proceedings

or 10% of the same publication (which is determined by 10% of the total number of pages), whichever is greater.

The equivalent amount can be downloaded from a website. See the ICLA Higher Education User Guidelines for further details.

What Work is Covered?

Copyright protection extends to the following types of works:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works.
  • Sound recordings, films, broadcasts, cable programmes.
  • The typographical arrangement of published editions and original databases.

Artistic work embraces: drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, collages, maps, charts, plans, engravings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, sculptures and architecture works.

Literary works incorporate computer programs.

If you wish to use work that is under copyright in a way that is restricted by copyright you need to get permission from the copyright owner.

How Long does Copyright Last?

In general copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus seventy years.

The Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA) represents Ireland’s authors, publishers and visual creators to license the use of their copyright works in return for just compensation. In addition to the copying permitted by the 2000 Act, a licensing scheme has been established under ICLA for Irish higher education institutions.

ICLA licenses cover a wide range of both Irish and overseas publications. However, some categories of works and some individual works are not covered by some of their licenses, these are found in the excluded Irish works list.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization permitting the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legitimate means.

Creative Commons’ copyright licenses provide an easy and consistent way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work under your conditions.

The Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright, they work along with copyright enabling you to adapt your copyright terms to best suit your requirements.

Source: Creative Commons

Intellectual Property

Copyright legislation is part of the broader part of law recognised as intellectual property. The term intellectual property generally refers to the creations of the human mind. Intellectual property rights safeguard the interests of creators by giving them property rights over their creations.

From: World Intellectual Property Organization, 2005. Understanding Copyright and Related Rights. WIPO.

Interactive Resources

Copyright Genie

Fair use evaluator


This guide provides an overview of copyright, it is not intended as a comprehensive interpretation of copyright legislation and does not offer legal advice.

Readers at ATU Library are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure compliance with copyright.

Even when copies have been made in compliance with regulations, readers should acknowledge the copyright of works they use, by correctly referencing the copyright owner and source.