Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission.
Copyright protection applies automatically when you create certain types of work such as literary, dramatic, musical, artistic work and more. Copyright applies from the moment this work is fixed in a 'tangible form of expression', eg in a paper copy, digital file, video or audio recording, sheet music, etc.
See all cases where copyright may and may not apply in what does copyright cover.
Who owns copyright
Before you can use a copyright work, you have to be sure that you own it. Ownership may depend on the circumstances under which the work was created.
Generally, the originator - ie the person who created the work - is the first owner of the copyright. This rule also applies to commissioned works, unless it is otherwise agreed. However, if a work is created as part of a contract of employment, then the employer is the first owner of these rights, unless agreed otherwise with the creator.
Find more information on contractors and copyright.
It is possible for two or more people to be joint creators or owners of copyright. Find out more about ownership of copyright works.
How can you use copyright
Copyright is a form of intellectual property. You can buy it, sell it, transfer it or inherit it like any other form of property. If you own copyright, you have certain rights to decide if and how others can use your copyright work.
For example, you could market your work yourself to gain the rewards for your efforts. Or, you may decide to involve others in exploiting, developing or marketing your copyright.
To help you decide how to use copyright, it's important to understand:
- how to license your copyright
- how to sell or transfer your copyright
- how to license or buy other people's copyright
You may also want to read about your economic rights from owning copyright.