Copyright protects the rights of authors or creators of certain works and allows them to control use over their work.
Copyright exists in original literary, musical and artistic works, as well as films, sound recordings, and original databases. The copyright holder has the right to control use of the work, including the making of copies, or performing or adapting the work.
Duration of copyright
The duration of copyright varies depending on the nature of the item. Please see the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000, which is the primary legislation governing copyright in Ireland, for information on the duration of copyright in different types of material.
The legislation also outlines the circumstances that are exempt from copyright restrictions placed on a work. Known as ‘Fair Dealing’, they include the copying of a work for the purpose of research and private study, for the purpose of criticism or review, and for reporting current events.
The amount of a work (apart from journal articles) which may be copied under the Fair Dealing provisions is not specified in the 2000 Act. However, a number of conditions apply:
- Only a “reasonable proportion” of a work can be copied
- The same copy cannot be supplied to more than three people at the same time and for the same purpose
In the case of serials, as many articles from a volume can be copied as there are issues in the volume, or 10% of the volume, whichever is greater.
Users of National Library of Ireland collections are reminded that it is their responsibility to comply fully with copyright law when using NLI materials.
The difference between permission and copyright
The NLI provides copies of images and other material in its collections on the understanding that no copy will be reproduced without the NLI’s written permission. For the right to re-use a copy, a permission fee may be charged, and an acknowledgement must be made to the NLI in the publication. Many items in our collections are still in copyright; in these cases, written permission from the copyright holder must also be obtained by the person seeking to reproduce the item.
Should you have taken an image using your own digital device, you are still obliged to request permission to re-use it if you decide to publish or broadcast as outlined above.
Contact details for the copyright holders of a number of Irish writers and artists is available on the WATCH Database, run by the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas, and the University of Reading Library.
Using a quotation from a book or manuscript in another publication
The Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 states that copyright in a work which has been lawfully made available to the public is not infringed by use of quotations or extracts from the work, but it must be accompanied by an acknowledgement.
In the case of manuscripts, and in particular manuscripts which are still in copyright and/or unpublished, it is advisable to seek permission from the copyright holder in advance of publication.
Disclaimer: These guidelines are intended as a general introduction to some relevant aspects of copyright, and are not an authoritative interpretation of the law.