Copyright FAQ

Below are answers to some of the most common questions about copyright. Use the search box to looks for a specific term.


  • Copyright
Expand All | Collapse All
  • 1. What is copyright?


    Copyright is defined as a property right that subsists in certain specified types of works. The owner of the copyright protected work has the exclusive right to do certain acts in relation to the work, such as making the work available, making a copy, broadcasting or selling copies to the public. Copyright protection typically lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.


    Question Link:

  • 2. What does copyright law protect?


    The law of copyright protects the expression of ideas. The privilege of copyright is conferred to reward the labour skill and judgement which the creator or author has expended in producing the work. Copyright requires some degree of originality, which in essence means that the work must not be a copy of an original work.

    Question Link:

  • 3. When does a work have copyright protection?


    Copyright automatically subsists in an original work. The author does not have to register the work or take any positive steps for copyright protection to apply; it simply arises by virtue of the originality of the work.

    Question Link:



  • 4. What work is protected?


    The works that are protected by copyright law are as follows:

    - original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works,

    - sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes,

    - the typographical arrangement of published editions, and

    - original databases.


    The protection provided by copyright does not extend to the ideas, principles, concepts or the methods which underline the work in hand.

    Question Link:


  • 5. What am I prohibited from doing with copyright protected work?


    The following is a list of the exclusive rights that are granted to copyright owners by operation of law:

    - Reproduction:  i.e. the right to copy the work

    - Distribution: i.e. the right to communicate/make the work available to the public

    - Adaptation: the right to make an adaptation of the work, whether made available to the public or not.

    Question Link:



  • 6. What constitutes lawful use in the educational context?


    The Copyrights and Related Rights Act 2000 includes a fair dealing exception which arise in the context of Research or Private Study and allows the copying of copyright protected work where the use will not unreasonably prejudice interests of the copyright owner. However this exception is not applicable where copying results in copies of substantially the same material being provided to more than one person at approximately the same time and for substantially the same purpose.

    Additionally for the purposes of criticism or review, copyright protected work can be used lawfully where such use constitutes incidental inclusion; for example through the use of quotations and/or reference, so long as there is a sufficient acknowledgement of the author and title of the work.


    Question Link:


  • 7. What are the basic terms UCC/Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA) license


    UCC has signed an agreement with the ICLA which sets out the extent and nature of the copying that can lawfully be conducted by UCC staff and students. This license permits copying pursuant to the terms of the license and in the context of digital copying permits the scanning of material for digital reproduction in order to make available, digital copies of licensed materials via blackboard; and to allow for that material to be printed onto paper.

    However all such copying must be of licensed works (defined in the terms of the license), must be exclusively for educational purposes and expressly excludes the posting of such material on the worldwide web. Additionally a user cannot make digital copies of any graphic or visual work unless integral to text being copied, can’t make copy to CD, DVD, floppy disk etc. and can’t collect or store digital copy except for technical back-up purposes.


    Question Link:



  • 8. How can I lawfully source and use material/images?


    Copyright protected work cannot be used without the permissions of the author or creator of the work. These protections can be lessened or waived by agreement and this typically occurs through a license arrangement. However increasingly authors and creators wish to make their work more available to the public than that currently provided for by operation of law. To identify those images/original literary works that are available to the public for use, a user must identify the intention of the author/creator. Many such authors now make their works available through the Creative Commons licensing system which allows the author to dictate the nature of the availability of his/her work, thereby allowing him/her to retain their copyright while allowing certain exceptions to it, upon certain conditions.


    Question Link:


  • 9. What is Creative Commons?


    The Creative Commons movement works to offer creators a way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them, to declare "some rights reserved."   This is a middle path between absolute copyright protection (all rights reserved) and pure public domain availability. Creative Commons helps people retain copyright in creative works while licensing them as free for certain uses, on certain conditions. This applies to any creative works: scholarly articles, websites, music, film, photography, literature, courseware, etc.



    Question Link:


  • 10. Is there a limit to how much I can put on a Blackboard module site?


    The UCC/ICLA license permits UCC staff/students to copy an extract from a work, and there are express limits on the extent of the permitted copying; The material must be included in the ‘licensed materials’ (an exhaustive list of the relevant publishers); the copying must be of the original work; the copying in the case of any one published work cannot exceed 5% of the work or one chapter (whichever is the greater), save that, in the case of an article in a journal or periodical, the whole article can be copied, but not more than any one article in any issues or publication; or in the case of a short story or poem of not more than 10 pages in length, the whole of the short story or poem may be copied.


    Related:  (original license) (digital extension)


    Question Link:


  • 11. Can I use an image from a book/website if I cite it the same way I would cite text for example?


    It would depend upon who owns the image you want to use, you should check who created the original image as you may need to need to attribute the primary and secondary sources.


    Question Link:



  • 12. Where can I find out more about copyright?


    The following presentations have kindly been made available by Dr Louise Crowley, School of Law. They give a good overview of copyright issues.  You can download both from the Resources page and then search for 'copyright.'

    - Copyright and IP Law in the Digital Age

    - Copyright Law in the Educational Context


    You can also have a look at the UCC Office of Corporate and Legal Affairs (OCLA) site and UCC license agreements at the following links:

    UCC OCLA Copyright pages

    Original License

    Digital Extension


    Question Link: