Last checked: 19/05/2021


Affected by Brexit?

Your rights

When you create an original literary, scientific and artistic work, such as poems, articles, films, songs or sculptures, you are protected by copyright. Nobody apart from you has the right to make the work public or reproduce it.

In EU countries (In this case, the 28 EU member states ), copyright protects your intellectual property until 70 years after your death, or 70 years after the death of the last surviving author in the case of a work of joint authorship.

Outside of the EU, in any country which signed the Berne ConventionOpen as an external linkPDF document, the duration of copyright protection can vary but it lasts until at least 50 years after the author's death.

If you want to prove the existence of your work at a certain point of time, a registration can be useful.

Copyright protection grants you the following exclusive rights:

For further information, consult the fact sheet on copyrightOpen as an external linkPDF document from the European Intellectual Property Rights HelpdeskOpen as an external link (EHD).

How to obtain copyright protection

If you create literary, scientific and artistic work, you automatically have copyright protection, which starts from the moment you create your work, so you don't need to go through any formal application process.

However, you may need to advise other people that you are the author of that work. You can attach a copyright notice to your work – such as the "all rights reserved" text, or the © symbol – together with the year the work was created.

Sample story

Tiago owns a bakery in Portugal and wants to publish an advertisment in a local magazine to promote his business. He found a nice photo of traditional Portuguese bread on a website and wants to use this photo on his bakery's advert. Before Tiago sends it to the magazine, he notices that the photo is copyright protected and the owner does not permit the free use of the photo. Therefore, Tiago is not authorised to use it in his advertisement. If he wants to use an image for free, Tiago has to look for copyright free photos that are available for commercial use, such as on an online database. When using this material, he doesn't have to request authorisation from right holders to use the photo in his advertisement.

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Questions on a specific country?

EU legislation

Need support from assistance services?

Get in touch with specialised assistance services

European IPR HelpdeskOpen as an external link

Free advice and training on intellectual property management for EU co-funded projects or transnational business deals.

Local business support

Do you have questions on operating a business cross-border , for example exporting or expanding to another EU country? If so, the Enterprise Europe Network can give you free advice.

More assistance services

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