10 + 1 fundamental notions of copyright law

The present glossary for children sets out some very basic notions of copyright law. The wording is adapted to the perceptual capacities of high school students.

1. Copyright

Copyright is the right acquired by the author of an original work over it. Copyright entails the economic and the moral right.

2. Copyright infringement

Copyright is infringed each time that a person acts in relation to a work without the permission of the author or in violation of the terms of such a permission (when this use is not covered by some exception or limitation).

3. Economic right

The economic right gives the author the possibility to exploit his work economically, for example to reproduce it, to perform it in public, to translate it or even to upload it on the internet.

4. Exception / Limitation

Copyright and the related rights are not unlimited. They are limited for the public interest in specific cases provided for by the law. Such cases are the use of snippets from one’s work to support an argument or to criticize a view, the reproduction of a work for teaching purposes, the use of a work for information etc.

5. Idea

Ideas are not protected under copyright law so that they can be used for the creation of works. When an idea is materialized to a work (when it has a specific form) that is original, then this work is protected under copyright law.

6. Intellectual property

Intellectual property is the right of each person to the works of his mind. Intellectual property entails copyright and related rights, as well as industrial property, such as inventions, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs and protected geographical designations of origin.

7. Moral right

The moral right protects the relation of the author to his work. This right grants the author the capability to decide if, how, when and where his work will be made available to the public (right of publication), the right to be always mentioned as the author of the work or even the right to maintain his anonymity (for example when he uses a pseudonym) (right of paternity), the possibility to have access to his work (right of access), the possibility to forbid any type of alteration, cutting or any other type of modification of his work (right of integrity), the possibility to withdraw from transfer contracts or exploitation of literary or scientific works (right of withdrawal).

The distinctiveness of the moral right lies in the fact that it cannot be transferred to another person. It remains with the author even if the author transfers all his other rights over his work. Rights of paternity and of integrity never expire and are exercised by the Minister of Culture.

8. Original work

Originality is not defined by law. However, a work is considered to be original when it is a personal intellectual creation of its author, it bears his creative choices and his personal mark.

9.Related right

Related right is the right attributed to performers and performers-artists (actors, singers, musicians) in relation to their performance, as well as to those involved in making a work accessible to the public (for example publishers, producers, broadcasting organizations).

10. Rightholder

The rightholder is the one to whom an author has transferred his rights or to whom the author has given a relevant permission to exercise said rights. In other words he is the one expressly allowed by the author to exercise copyright or/and related rights.

11. Term of protection

Copyright does not last forever. It lasts from the moment an author creates a work till 70 years after his death.