When a work is protected by copyright, this implies that it is notably prohibited:

  • to make reproductions, even partial ones of the work;
  • to make modifications to the work, to put extracts from it in another work, etc.;
  • to distribute or to communicate the work to the public, for example:
    • by distributing copies, even free of charge;
    • by playing music or a film in a public place;
    • by putting a work on the Internet;
    • by performing a play in public;
    • by showing a play-back in public;
    • by playing music in karaoke;
    • by renting the work.

These acts (this is only a non-exhaustive list of examples) cannot be carried out without prior authorisation from the owners of the copyright and related rights.

What is not prohibited by copyright

In general, copyright does not prevent any acts for private use that can be done with a work, such as:

  • use in the family circle;
  • copying for private purposes;
  • the photograph of a work exhibited in public for its private use;
  • the loan of a book, a CD, a DVD, a comic book, to a friend;
  • the resale of a work (and not a copy).

Finally, there are circumstances in which certain public uses of works are permitted, for example, for education, for people with disabilities, for libraries, etc. These are the exceptions to copyright.

Copyright does not protect ideas

Although it is not possible to copy a work without authorisation, it is always permissible to use the idea underlying a work.

Last update
22 March 2022