When I joined CLA back in 2014, I had to learn a new language – so many terms I’d never encountered before! They sounded obvious, but was it that easy? In most cases, yes, but here’s a bit more detail about some of the common terms you might come across when you’re considering copyright.

Copyright. Sounds crazy, but if I’m honest, as a teacher I’m not sure I could have given you a succinct definition. So here’s the test, can I do it now?…(takes deep breath)….Copyright is the automatic right of ownership that a creator has over any original creation they’ve made in a material form. (exhales audibly). This was when I understood the difference between a patent and trademark (needs registering) and copyright (automatic).

Fair Dealing. Not to be confused with the US Fair Use. Fair Dealing is when acts of copying are allowed without the need to ask permission. How ‘fair’ is decided upon is the degree to which the re-use will affect the market for the original work, and how much of the original is being re-used.

Exceptions. These are certain circumstances that allow for limited use of materials without the permission of the copyright owner. The best place to look for more information is the Intellectual Property Office, who have guidance on what kind of scenarios are covered.

Public Domain. Public domain refers to works where the copyright has expired, normally because the appropriate time has elapsed since the death of the creator. So just remember that being ‘in’ the public domain – available on a website for instance – isn’t the same thing.

Creative Commons. This is a type of licence, and generally speaking, it means that material is ok to use. BUT. Always check the individual conditions of the Creative Commons Licence you’re looking at, as it may want credit, no-adaption or no commercial use depending on what the creator decided. More information can be found at creativecommons.org.