2. Intellectual Property

Copyright legislation is part of the wider body of law known as Intellectual Property.  The term Intellectual Property refers broadly to the creations of the human mind.  Intellectual Property rights protect the interests of creators by giving them property rights over their creations.

The following is a list of subject matter protected by Intellectual Property rights:

  • literary, artistic and scientific works;
  • performances of performing artists, phonograms, and broadcasts;
  • inventions in all fields of human endeavor;
  • scientific discoveries;
  • industrial designs;
  • trademarks, service marks, and commercial names and designations;
  • protection against unfair competition;
  • all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.

Intellectual Property is usually divided into two branches, namely Industrial Property, which broadly speaking protects inventions, and Copyright, which protects literary and artistic works.

[Extracts from Understanding Copyright and Related Rights handbook produced by World Intellectual Property Organization]

Take the virtual tour 'Intellectual property in everyday life' below by World Intellectual Property Organization to see how you are surrounded by intellectual property everywhere.


When you produce a work as a result of your own intellectual effort, it is your intellectual property and it belongs to you.  There are exceptions such as creating a work as part of your employment, in which case the intellectual property rights are owned by the employer.