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Purpose of copyright: protecting the creator against infringement

The purpose of copyright law is to protect the creator of a work against infringement, to guarantee commercial exploitation and to stimulate new ideas. However, to be eligible for copyright protection, certain specific conditions must be met.

The originator of the work is the creator

The creator of a work – or their estate if the creator is dead – acquires the copyright to it on its creation. The term ‘creator’ is sometimes confusing. In copyright terms, the author of a work is its creator and not the printer who produces the book in a physical sense. Under copyright law, the creator is the originator of a work; in other words, the person who produced the mental or creative effort to create it.

Record the date of creation

Copyright arises at the time of creation of the work or, more specifically, at the time when the work becomes visible to third parties. What is special about copyright law is that no formality, registration or other legal act is required to acquire a copyright. Nonetheless, it is advisable to officially record the date on which the work was created in order to make it easier to tackle plagiarism, imitations or copies in the future and, ultimately, to protect copyright.

Conditions for protection

Note, however, that to be eligible for copyright protection, certain conditions do apply. The work must:

  • lie in the field of literature, science or art;
  • have its own character (originality);
  • be recorded in a particular form; and
  • be perceptible.

Using the copyright symbol

In practice, creators of a work use the copyright symbol (©) to indicate their copyright claim. The use of the symbol is highly recommended. In some countries, it is even compulsory to use the © symbol in order to be able to claim compensation under copyright law.

Difference between individuals and companies

If the work is produced by an individual, copyright protection will generally end 70 years after death. If a company is regarded as the creator of a work, copyright protection expires 70 years after introduction or publication of the work.

Would you like to know more about copyright protection?

As official registration is not necessary, protecting copyright and contesting copyright infringement can be a complex process. Besides the fact that a number of conditions must be met, there are also a number of important exceptions to the protection of copyright. If someone makes improper use of your work, or you want to improve the protection of your work, please get in touch with Novagraaf. Our consultants can also help you with questions about plagiarism. You can contact us by using the contact form at the top right of this page.