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Copyright applies to a wide variety of written, audio and video works, and enables the copyright owner to control the copying, publication, rental, public performance and adaptation of a work. It applies to ―

  • literary works (anything reduced to writing, whether or not of literary merit, including letters, computer programs, tables and lists, and technical manuals)

  • dramatic works (including screenplays and radio and TV scripts)

  • musical works

  • artistic works (whether or not of artistic merit, including sculpture, drawings, engravings, photographs, buildings, models, and works of craftsmanship)

  • sound recordings

  • films (including other forms of visual recording)

  • broadcasts (including cable programmes)

  • the typographical arrangement of a published edition

Copyright arises as soon as a work is created, and does not depend on registration.  Generally the first owner of copyright in a work is its author or creator, but the right may be assigned or licensed to others.

Copyright protection does not depend on registration ― the right arises as soon as the work is recorded, eg. in writing.

The length of time that copyright lasts depends on the type of work. In general it is 70 years from the death of the author (prior to 1 April 2013 copyright lasted only 50 years from the death of the author).

Copyright law in the Isle of Man is contained in the Copyright Act 1991, as amended. The Act also confers "moral rights" on the author of a work, eg. the right to be identified as author.

As part of the Department’s IP modernisation programme, a number of changes to copyright law have been or are being made. For more information click on the link on the left hand side of the page for ‘IP modernisation’.

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