10 Tips for Creating a Copyright Policy

Practical Steps to Comply with Copyright Law

What is copyright?

In general, copyright is a form of legal protection given to content creators through the assignment of specific rights to works that qualify for protection.

The main goals of copyright are to encourage the development of culture,
science and innovation, while providing a financial benefit to copyright
holders for their works, and to facilitate access to knowledge and
entertainment for the public.

Each country has national legal regulations of copyright, and therefore there is no such thing as international copyright law. Nevertheless, more than 160 countries have ratified a treaty—the Berne Convention, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)—that aims to protect the rights of creators around the world. The differences in the national copyright laws present a challenge for global organizations with employees working in worldwide offices and sharing content across borders.

RightsDirect has developed a list of tips to help you create an effective copyright compliance policy for your organization. Please feel free to use these sample guidelines for your organization, but be sure to consult a lawyer and understand, that the following suggestions do not constitute legal advice.

Before Creating your Policy


Ask for input from the copyright experts in your organization who may have
suggestions for issues to address in your policy. These people may sit in your legal, compliance, library/information services, IT or corporate communications departments

Policy Objective

Establish your policy objective and be clear on why your organization is implementing a copyright policy. For example, is it to fulfill your obligations under copyright law? Or provide employees with a uniform approach to addressing copyright issues?

Copyright Definition

Define what copyright means to your organization. Include information about what is and is not copyright-protected in the countries where your organization operates.

One of the basic principles of the Berne Convention is that of “automatic protection”, which means that copyright protection exists automatically from the time any qualifying work is fixed in a tangible medium, such as paper, film or a silicon chip.

A qualifying work is any original creation, but it is only the expression, not the idea, that is protected by copyright law.

In most countries, for example, copyright will protect the following types of works:

  • LITERARY WORKS: Blogs, books, cartoons, emails, letters, magazines, memos,newspapers, newsletters, trade journals, training materials, in print or digital format.
  • COMPUTER SOFTWARE: On disc or download in digital format.
  • PICTORIAL, GRAPHICS AND SCULPTURES: Multi-dimensional artworks, graphical images, maps and photographs, in print or digital format.
  • SOUND RECORDINGS: recorded or performed on discs, records, podcasts or other media.
  • AUDIOVISUAL WORKS: Motion pictures, multimedia presentations, slideshows,
    in analog or digital format.
  • DRAMATIC WORKS: Plays and screenplays, regardless of the medium in which performed or displayed.


Define and Communicate your Policy

Now that you have prepared to create your copyright policy, it’s important to figure out how to define and effectively communicate it. Download our free tip sheet, 10 Tips to Create a Copyright to learn more.

Download now.