Copyright protects the expression of ideas in tangible forms, including works like novels or computer programmes. Read on to find out more about copyright.

Ownership & Commercialisation

In general, the person who created the work (i.e. the author) owns the copyright in the work.

This includes situations where the author was paid under an agreement (i.e. commissioned) to create the work (this is subject to contract, which means that the author and commissioner can agree in writing that someone else will own the copyright instead).



If you created the works during employment, your employer will automatically own the work. This applies to all employees, except for journalists.

If you created the works while employed as a journalist by a newspaper, magazine or other periodical, and the work is created for the publication in these mediums, your employer will automatically have the right to publish and reproduce these works in publications.

However, you, as the journalist, still have the right to publish the work for other purposes such as collation into a book.


Rights of a copyright owner

As a copyright owner, you have certain exclusive rights to control the use and commercial exploitation of your copyright works.

Literary, Dramatic, Musical Works

Authors enjoy the exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce it

  • publish it

  • perform it in public

  • communicate it to the public

  • make an adaptation of it

Artistic Works

Artists enjoy the exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce it

  • publish it

  • communicate it to the public

Published Editions Of Literary, Dramatic, Musical Or Artistic Works

The publisher has the exclusive rights to:

  • make a reproduction of the edition.

Sound Recordings

The producer of a sound recording enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a copy of it

  • rent it

  • publish it

  • communicate it to the public


The producer of a film enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a copy of it

  • screen it in public

  • communicate it to the public

Television and Radio Broadcasts

The broadcaster enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a recording of it

  • rebroadcast it

  • communicate it to the public

  • broadcast it to be seen or heard by a paying audience

Cable programmes

The producer enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a recording of it

  • communicate it to the public

  • screen it to be seen by a paying audience


The performer has the right to authorise the performance for the following uses:

  • allow it to be seen and/or heard live in public

  • make a direct or indirect sound recording

  • make it available to the public

Copyright, like real estate, can be sold or leased. Selling your copyright means transferring/assigning your ownership of the copyright to a third party. Leasing your copyright means licensing a third party specific uses of the copyright protected work. The transfer/assignment or licensing of copyright is usually carried out by a written contract together with payment of fees.

Assignment and licensing of the copyright can generate revenue streams for the copyright holder.

As a copyright owner, bear these in mind when choosing between an assignment and a license:




Do I retain ownership of the copyright?


Ownership of the copyright is completely transferred to a new owner.


Do I have full control over the copyright?



Is my permission still required should third parties request to use my copyright?



The third party licensee will only have the right to use the copyright as set out in the license.

Can I charge third parties a fee for using my copyright?



Considerations For Assignment and Licensing of Copyright Work to Others
We recommend having a written contract to document the assignment or licence. The contract is to be signed by you and the other party, and should set out the nature and scope of the rights granted, and the rights and obligations of each party.

Here are some considerations when preparing the contract:

assignment_contract (1)

licensing_contract (1)

Before using any copyright work that belongs to a third party, you should always get copyright owner’s permission. This way, you can avoid the risk of copyright infringement.

Infringement occurs when you have not obtained the consent of the copyright owner to do something that only the copyright owner has the right to do. For example, making a photocopy of a textbook without the consent of the publisher.

To obtain consent from copyright owners, you may:

  1. contact the copyright owner directly and negotiate for a licence to use the copyright material; or

  2. obtain a licence through a Collective Management Organisations.

Alternatively, you may use the materials found on Creative Commons (CC) without the need to further seek explicit permission from the owner, so long as the use conforms to the licence attributes.

Using or Copying Materials from the Internet 

Do not assume that whatever is posted on the internet is fair game for copying.

Before you copy or use any material available on the internet, always check if the website has terms and conditions governing use of content on the website. A link to the terms and conditions can usually be found at the foot of the homepage. Else, try to identify the website owner and write to them for permission.

When Permission to Use Copyright Work Is Not Required

There are exceptions to copyright protection which provides limited circumstances where you can use copyright works without seeking permission from the copyright owner. These exceptions are set out for the use of works for specific users (eg. school and libraries etc.) or for specific reasons (eg. research and reporting of current events).

Fair Use

Fair Use

There are some factors (non-exhaustive) that are taken into account when deciding whether copying in a certain situation is a ‘fair-use’:

  1. The purpose and nature of the dealing, including whether such dealing is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes

  2. The nature of the work

  3. The amount and significance of the work copied, in relation to the whole

  4. The effect of the dealing upon the potential or value of the work 

If you copy works for a specific purpose of research and study, it is considered fair use so long copying limits are observed. For a published work of at least 10 pages, the copying limit is 10% of the total number of or one chapter of the work, whichever is greater.

Exceptions for Educational Institutions
If you are from an educational institution, you can make copies of, or to communicate a copyright work within certain limits for educational purposes. The copying or communication of works is certain record keeping requirements and the requirement to pay equitable remuneration. You can also use free-to-access resources from the Internet for educational purposes only under certain circumstances.

Copyright Owners

Infringement & Enforcement

Actions to take against copyright infringement

Copyright Resources

Access useful information and links on copyright

Copyright FAQs

Refer to commonly asked questions

Forms & Fees

View request forms and relevant fees

Copyright Tribunals

Forum for licensing disputes between collective management organisations and users