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 27 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 Convention, 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 in time, a registration can be useful.
Copyright protection grants you the following exclusive rights:
- economic rights – guaranteeing you have control over your work and remuneration for its use through selling or licensing
- moral rights – usually protecting your rights to claim authorship (right of attribution) and to refuse a modification of your work (right of integrity)
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.
Tiago owns a bakery in Portugal and wants to publish an advertisement 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 in 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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