Copyright and material types

What types of material are protected by copyright?

Copyright law protects all manner of materials and applies not just to printed publishing, but also manuscripts, digital and physical formats. It protects both public works (e.g. books, broadcasts) and unpublished works (e.g. diaries, letters). 

The following categories of works are protected:

  • Literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works
  • Sound recordings, broadcasts and films
  • Typographical arrangement of published editions - the typography and layout of printed materials such as books and journals

What should you be aware of?

There are variations in copyright rules and licensing which affect the way different types of materials can be copied or reused within the law. For instance, it can depend on the type of material as to how long copyright protection lasts.   

There are related rights, in addition to copyright, that may need to be considered for certain types of materials. For example, where a work contains a performance, the performer will also have performance rights over how the work is used.  

These pages provide additional guidance about some of the main material types. 



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