Original Copyright

One of the main aspects of copyright protection is to establish that the works (over which copyright protection is being claimed) is original.

So when is a work original?
In order for a work to be original the author must have exercised the requisite labour, skill and effort in creating that piece of work.

There is not however a definite term or measurement for the above. Instead much will depend on the facts of the case. The bar for originality will also be raised or lowered depending on the types of works in question. I will now deal with both ‘new works’ & ‘derivative works’.

New Works
Generally speaking a new work requires a low degree of labour, skill and effort. In the past the courts have ruled that a simple drawing of a hand or screw has copyright afforded to it.

Derivative Works
Derivative works are those works which are based upon pre-existing works.
In order for the works to be deemed original the following must be applicable:

The labour must be of the right kind : this means that some degree of individuality must have been exercised. A simple tracing of a pre-existing work (whilst labour some) is not original and therefore falls foul of this requirement.

The effort must bring about a material change in the works: this means that the author of the new works must impose on the pre-existing works some form of extra character and material change. The new works must be differentiated and distinct from the original works.


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