World Copyright Day

Today, 23rd of April, is a big day in the world of words. Massive. Not only is it Shakespeare’s birthday (460 years young and still going strong), but three world-famous writers all died on this day in the same year: Shakespeare again (rotten luck, Will!), Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (he of Don Quixote fame), and Peruvian historian and chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Phew. That’s a lot going on right there.

So, it’s no wonder that UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) chose this day to be recognised as World Copyright Day.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a way of protecting the integrity of a work of creation, be it a poem, a textbook, a film, a novel, a piece of music, a painting. Even blogs, websites and podcasts are covered by copyright, which legally defines the owner of the work (of course ownership can and does change). In this case, what you own is called intellectual property. And this is important because it protects the owner from theft, rip-off, or misappropriation of their work, and ensures that they are properly paid for the work they produce.

What does this mean for you? Well, in essence it means that you are responsible for knowing how much of another person’s material you can use in your studies. This covers, for example, how much you photocopy or scan, who or what you film, whose images you use, and how much you quote from books and articles. You need to know how much you can use, how to credit it, and what purposes it can be used for.

Now, we know that you’d never intentionally misuse someone else’s work, but we have plenty of resources in the library to keep you on the right side of copyright law. The best place to start is with our copyright LibGuides: Copyright – staying legal – Copyright guidance – LibGuides at Edinburgh Napier University

As the birthday boy himself said: “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” (All’s Well that Ends Well, Act 3, Scene 5)

by Lesley McRobb

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