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What is copyright?

Copyright is the right that creators have to stop others from copying their creative works without their permission.

How does it work?

Copyright protects the work of creators, such as artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers.

Works are protected as soon as they are created, as long as they have been written down, filmed or recorded.

Copyright is automatic. You don’t have to put a copyright notice on works, but it is a good idea.

You will often see works with the copyright symbol (©) and the copyright owner’s name on them.

Copyright ownership is different to physical ownership of something. For example, if you buy a DVD of a film, you own the DVD, but you don’t own the right to copy it. The film producer owns copyright in it and you need to have their permission if you want to copy it.


Copyright does not protect ideas.

For example, copyright will not protect an idea for a film or book, but it will protect a script or a storyboard for a film.


Copyright is different to plagiarism.

Plagiarism is about using someone else’s work and pretending it is your own. Copyright is about having to obtain permission to use someone else’s work.

Why is copyright important?

Copyright is important because it gives creators control over their creative works. This means they can decide who uses their work, how it can be used and if they will charge a fee to other people who want to use it. This gives creators the ability to earn a living from their works.

Using copyright works without permission is known as copyright theft or piracy.