Requirements for copyright protection

Work Must Be Original

Listen to Audio: Requirements for Copyright Protection

To qualify for copyright protection, a work must be original. In copyright law, originality relates to expression of thought and not to the underlying idea or thought. However, the exact meaning of originality under the copyright law differs from country to country. In general terms, originality refers to the fact that the work was independently created, and it was not copied from  somewhere else.

Copyright protection extends only to original contributions to a work and does not extend to any elements of a work that were borrowed from others. For example, if a new video game has used copyright material of others and/or has material which is in the ‘public domain’, then copyright protection would extend only to any original compilation of this material, and not to the borrowed material. 

Even so, works enjoy copyright protection irrespective of their creative elements, quality, or value (a drawing of a three‐year‐old child is also a work with full copyright protection), and do not need to have any literary or artistic merit (copyright also applies to purely technical guides, instructions manuals or engineering drawings). 

Some countries require that the work be fixed in some material form. Fixation may mean, for example, that the work is written on paper, stored on a disk, painted on canvas, or recorded on tape. In such countries, choreographic works, improvisational speeches, or live performances that have not been notated or recorded, are not protected until recorded or otherwise fixed.