Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form.
Copyright is not registered in Iceland and the ISIPO only provides basic information thereon. Various specialized copyright organisations exist who may provide you with detailed information on how to best protect your work.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.
How is copyright created?
A copyright is a collection of rights that automatically vest to someone who creates an original work of authorship and need not be obtained through official registration with any government office. Once an idea has been reduced to tangible form, for example by securing it in a fixed medium (such as a drawing, sheet music, photograph, a videotape, or a computer file), the copyright holder is entitled to enforce his or her exclusive rights. These rights include the right to reproduce the work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies, and to perform and display the work publicly.
For a work to be considered to infringe upon the copyright, its use must have occurred in a nation that has domestic copyright laws or adheres to a bilateral treaty or established international convention such as the Berne Convention or WIPO Copyright Treaty. Improper use of materials outside of legislation is deemed to be an "unauthorized edition", not copyright infringement.
How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark?
Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.
How long does copyright protection last?
In Iceland, copyright lasts until 70 years have elapsed from the start of the year after the author's death.
What can be copyright protected?
There is no exhaustive list of what can be protected by copyright. Examples are:
Literary works such as novels, poems, plays and newspaper articles. All works expressed in writing both in print and digital form, formally or informally recorded, can be protected.
Brochures, promotional material and manuals.
Computer software and databases.
Movies, compositions and dance.
Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works such as paintings, drawings, carvings, photographs, clothing designs, textiles.
Architectural works, maps and graphics such as actual buildings, blueprints, drawings, diagrams and models.
Sketches and three-dimensional works related to geography, topography, architecture and science.
Sound recordings such as songs, music, spoken word, sounds and other recordings.
Audiovisual works such as live-action films, animation, television programs and video games.
Pantomimes and choreographic works such as the art of imitating or acting out situations, and the composition of dance movements and patterns, including those accompanied by music.
It is recommended to have a good overview of a company's intellectual property and keep a record where all intellectual properties are listed and it is clear how they are protected, where they are protected and for how long that protection lasts.
By using copyright databases it is possible to prove ownership and avoid disputes about a work's author. The Benelux Intellectual Property Agency's database (BOIP) is an example of such a database, and the timestamp in the database can weigh heavily when proving copyright ownership in court.
Copyright issues in Iceland
Iceland has 3 international copyright agreements and is a member country of The Berne Convention for Copyright. The Copyright Index operates in Iceland under international copyright agreements and is recognised in countries all around the world as a copyright authority providing official copyright registration.
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
07 September 1947
Universal Copyright Convention (Geneva)
18 December 1956
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
01 January 1995
The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture administer matters pertaining to copyright. The Ministry awards recognition to copyright holders’ associations and approves their resolutions and royalty fees in relation to the use of their work and material that falls within the scope of copyright laws. Iceland is a party to a number of international conventions on intellectual property issues pertaining to authors, performers, producers and broadcasters.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture represents Iceland at such conventions on behalf of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and participates in international cooperation with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), Nordic ministries, the European Union and EFTA on intellectual property issues.