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Copyright: What is Copyright?

IT Carlow Library's guide to copyright

What is this guide about?

IT Carlow's guide to copyright. This guide is a brief introduction to copyright relevant to students, researchers and lecturers.

What is Copyright?


Copyright refers to the legal rights given to the originator of the created material. For example an artist has this right over his painting, to print, publish, reproduce, film etc this material over a period of years, though they may give this right to others at their discretion or by allowing others to reuse it when other people ask for the owner's permission.

Copyright in Ireland

Copyright in Ireland is enshrined in law by the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019 and its amendments. 

Read the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019 here:

The 2019 act has updated the provisions of the educational exceptions to include:

  • That both copying and communicating the copy falls under the exceptions for education produced by the act.
  • The replacement of reproduction rather than reprographing of documents including digital forms of copying.
  • Provisions for distance learning that allows the institution to communicate works of importance to distance students. Those students are allowed to make copies of those works.
  • That as long as a sufficient acknowledgement is given copies can be made of works available through the internet. 


None of the above should be taken as legal advice. These are just to be used as guides. 

Why is copyright important?

Content creators – such as authors, musicians and artists, invest their own time and resources to get their work published. It’s not that they don’t want us to enjoy it; after all, that is why they created it right? All they ask is that they get the deserved credit for their work and are able to earn a living from it if they wish.

What can I copy?

You can copy a work:

  • Whose copyright has expired
  • You own the copyright to the work
  • The copyright holder has given you permission to copy the work
  • The work is governed by a license granted by the copyright holder
  • Your copying is permitted by fair use

What is fair dealing?

Fair dealing refers to instances when you do not need to ask permission from the creator of a copyrighted work to use their content. It applies in circumstances when: 

1. The copied work is not infringing on the profits of the originators of the work. 

2. It is used for academic, education, criticism, review or reporting on currents events purposes. 

3.  A satisfactory attribution is given to the originator of the copyrighted work. 

However defense on a case on case basis and fault for a case is based on four aspects: the purpose of the work; how much is copied; the purpose of your use and whether it  infringes on the right or profits of the original works owners.

This usually only applies to individual copies. Multiple copies cannot be made and distributed unless covered by the ICLA  license. ICLA approved work can be copied and distributed to students.

How long does copyright last?


Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works: 70 years after author's death.

Film: 70 years after the death of the last of the major creators of the film, which include director, screenplay author, dialog author and music composer.

Sound Recordings70 years after the sound recording is made or if it is made available to the public then 50 years from the date it was made available to the public

Broadcast50 years after the broadcast is first transmitted

Computer generated works: 70 years after they were first created and distributed.


We would like to acknowledge that content for this guide was based on information in guides from the following libraries:

Dundalk Institute of Technology:

National College of Ireland:

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology: