Copyright protection

Copyright Protection

In Ireland, there is no registration procedure for owners of a copyright work.

The act of creating a work also creates the copyright, which then subsists in the physical expression of such works as:-

  • original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;
  • film, sound recordings, broadcasts and the typographical arrangement of published editions;
  • computer software and non-original databases and performances.


There are some exceptions to copyright in the Act.  These exceptions reflect instances where the wider public interest, or the interests of particular groups, makes it necessary to restrict or limit the rights granted to copyright owners.  Exceptions or permitted acts include:

  • Fair dealing: i.e. copying or using the work for the purposes of criticism, review, news reporting, research or private study.
  • Limited copying or using the work for particular educational purposes. These include the use of the work in examinations, and the inclusion of a short passage from the work in an anthology for schools.
  • Limited copying or using the work by librarians or archivists in specific circumstances.  Libraries and archives are given limited rights to copy works under certain conditions. Public libraries and certain educational establishments may also lend works without infringing the rights of the author.
  • Certain public administration activities by the Government or the Oireachtas including parliamentary and judicial proceedings and statutory inquiries and material in public records or statutory registers which is open to public inspection.
  • The making of a back-up copy of a computer program.
  • Acts done in reliance registration of a design.  The copyright in a design document or model recording or embodying a design for anything other than an artistic work or typeface is not infringed by the making of a product to the design or the copying of a product made to the design.
  • Recording a television programme or broadcast for the purpose of private and domestic for "time shifting" purposes so that a programme can be watched at a more convenient time.

Copyright infringement

Copyrights are protected by law and illegal use of these rights can be contested in the Courts. The technical term for this misuse is infringement. The legislation provides for criminal offences and consequently infringers could face both civil liability and criminal convictions.  Professional legal advice should be sought by copyright owners with regard to the options and the remedies available where infringement of their work occurs. 

It is most important that the creator or originator of a work can show subsequently when the work and the consequential copyright were created as it may be necessary to commence or defend infringement proceedings, at some later stage.  One way of doing this is to deposit a copy of the work with an acknowledged representative who may be a bank or solicitor in such a way as to allow the date and time of the deposit to be recorded or notarised. Alternatively, one may send a copy of the work to oneself by registered post (ensuring a clear date stamp on the envelope), retaining the original receipt of posting and leaving the envelope containing the copyright work unopened thus establishing that the work existed at that date and time.