Copyright Protection: Duration and Rights

MAR 29, 2017

Copyright protection is automatic when you create an original work such as sound and music recordings, films; when you write a book or poem; or when you develop new software. Usually, the original creator of a work owns the copyright in that work. However, in cases where you have produced the work as an employee, under the normal course of your employment, the copyright will belong to your employer.

You should also note that where you commission and agree to pay for a work, such as a photograph or a painting, the copyright will belong to the person commissioned.

The duration of copyright protection depends on the type of work produced.

Written, dramatic, musical and artistic work

  • 70 Years after authors death

Sound and music recording

  • 70 years from being published


  • 70 years after the death of the director, screenplay author and composer


  • 50 years from when it’s first broadcast

Layout of published editions of written, dramatic or musical works

  • 25 years from when it’s first published

Copyright protection prevents others from:

  • Making an adaption of your work including translating
  • Distributing copies of your work without your permission
  • Making copies of your work
  • Performing, broadcasting or playing your work in public
  • Putting it on the internet
  • Lending copies of your work

These are known as “economic rights”. Copyright owners also have “moral rights”. Moral rights are personal rights relating to the integrity of a work and cannot be sold or given away. A creator keeps their moral rights even when they have given up copyright in their work. Moral rights include the right to:

  • be identified as the author of your work

Object to how the work is presented, eg if you think it’s ‘derogatory’ or damaging to you or your reputation

  • object to changes made to your work.

A person who has licensed a copy- right protected work has the same rights and remedies as the copyright owner.

As producers and users of intellectual property, it is important that we keep aware of our rights and the rights of others as we get creating, Cayman!

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