Protecting a work under copyright law

The Berne Convention states that a work is protected by copyright if it is a literary or artistic work. This qualification is quite large and may cover virtually any creative piece of work.

A piece of work may be protected regardless of its form or mode of expression provided that it is original. Although the ideas may not be new the form of expression must be an original creation of the author. Work excluded from protection includes official decisions, news of the day and works that are no longer protected and have fallen into the public domain.

Is there a procedure to follow?

Under the Berne Convention copyright protection is granted automatically upon creation of the work and its Member States are specifically forbidden from requiring formalities for granting protection.

Unlike other forms of IPR, as long as the creative work is original its author is protected. Even a collection of facts or a database can be copyrighted provided it shows some creativity.

However, some countries do still require formalities to be completed. In these cases the work should be:

  • recorded in a tangible form
  • registered with the copyright office in the country concerned

In all cases it is advisable to use a copyright notice.

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