1 INFORMATION SHEET G010v18 March 2014 An Introduction to Copyright in Australia In this information sheet, we give general introductory information about copyright. The Copyright Council produces a large number of information sheets and a range of detailed practical guides that give further information about copyright law and how it applies in practice. For information about our other information sheets, other publications and our seminar program, see our website We update our information sheets from time to time. Check our website at to make sure this is the most recent version. The purpose of this information sheet is to give general introductory information about copyright. If you need to know how the law applies in a particular situation, please get advice from a lawyer. Key points Copyright provides creators with an incentive to create new works and a legal framework for the control of their creations. Copyright protection is free and applies automatically when material is created. There is NO registration system for copyright in Australia. Copyright does not protect ideas, information, styles or techniques. Copyright does not protect names, titles or slogans. There are no general exemptions from copyright law for non-profit organisations. There are some situations where copyright law allows people to use copyright material without permission for their own personal use, but these are narrow and specific. Australian copyright law applies to actions that take place in Australia, even if the material used was created or first published in another country. Copyright law Copyright law creates incentives for people to invest their time, talent and other resources in creating new material particularly cultural and educational material, which benefits society. In Australia, copyright law is set out in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). This is federal legislation, and applies throughout Australia. The Commonwealth Attorney-General administers Australian copyright law. Although the Copyright Act dates from 1968, it sets out how copyright applies for material created both before and after that date. The Copyright Act has been regularly amended since 1968, to bring it up to date with evolving technologies and concerns. In addition to dealing with copyright
2 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 2 2 rights, the Copyright Act also deals with performers rights and the moral rights of individual creators. In many cases, Australian courts have had to decide how the Copyright Act is to be interpreted and applied. Therefore, if you want to know how copyright law will apply to a particular situation you are facing, you will generally need to be aware not only of what is in the Copyright Act but also of how courts have approached the issues and interpreted the Act. What does copyright protect? Copyright protects: textual material ( literary works ) such as journal articles, novels, screenplays, poems, song lyrics and reports; computer programs (a sub-category of literary works ); compilations (another sub-category of literary works ) such as anthologies the selection and arrangement of material may be protected separately from the individual items contained in the compilation; artistic works such as paintings, drawings, cartoons, sculpture, craft work, architectural plans, buildings, photographs, maps and plans; dramatic works such as choreography, screenplays, plays and mime pieces; musical works: that is, the music itself, separately from any lyrics or recording; cinematograph films: the visual images and sounds in a film, video or DVD are protected separately from any copyright in works recorded on the film or video, such as scripts and music; sound recordings: the particular recording itself is protected by copyright, in addition to, for example, the music or story that is recorded; broadcasts: TV and radio broadcasters have a copyright in their broadcasts, which is separate from the copyright in the films, music and other material which they broadcast; and published editions: publishers have copyright in their typographical arrangements, which is separate from the copyright in works reproduced in the edition (such as poems or illustrations or music). Something that is a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for copyright purposes will be protected if it is original. In copyright terms, it s not hard for something to be original: it means that the work isn t a mere copy, a requisite level of skill and effort has been exercised in its creation, and it has been created by a human author. It is important to note that a physical item can contain a number of different and separate copyrights. For example, a CD will usually be made up of at least one sound recording as well as a number of musical works and song lyrics: each of these may be separately protected. Similarly, a DVD or video will usually contain not just moving images and sounds on the soundtrack, but also a screenplay and music, each of which may be separately protected. What is not protected by copyright? Ideas, concepts, styles, techniques and information Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, styles, techniques or information. For example, if you write an outline of your idea for a TV show, the written text will be protected by copyright as a literary work and, generally, someone wanting to reproduce the text would need your permission. However, someone else could write their own script, using your ideas, without
3 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 3 3 necessarily infringing your copyright. Copyright would only be an issue if someone copied or paraphrased an important or distinctive part of your written work (see Infringement, below). In some cases, however, people using your ideas or information or styles could be in breach of other laws (see Other areas of law, below). Names, titles and slogans Some things are too small or unoriginal to be protected by copyright. For example, single words (even invented words), names, titles, slogans and headlines are unlikely to be protected by copyright. In some cases, however, someone using a name, title or slogan which is already being used by someone else may run into problems with other areas of law, such as trade marks. For further information, see Other areas of law, below, and our information sheet Names, titles and slogans. People People and people s images (images of their face or body) are not protected by copyright. Sometimes, however, other areas of law, such as defamation and the Competition and Consumer Act, can affect the circumstances in which a person s image can be used (see Other areas of law, below). Copyright protection is automatic Copyright protection is free and automatic from the time a work is first written down or recorded in some way. You do not apply for copyright in Australia, and there is no system of registration here. Nor are there any forms to fill in, or fees to be paid. You do not need to publish your work, put a copyright notice on it, or do anything else before your work is covered by copyright. For example, as soon as a poem is written, or a song is recorded, it is protected. Who owns copyright? The Copyright Act sets out rules about copyright ownership. However, people involved in creating or investing in copyright material can reach agreement about who will own copyright. Whether or not the rules in the Copyright Act will be followed, if there will be more than one person involved in the creation of material or where material is commissioned, it s a good idea to have a written agreement about who will own copyright. The general rule under the Copyright Act is that the first owner of copyright is the creator of the work, or the person responsible for making the sound recording, film, broadcast or published edition. There are, however, important exceptions to this general rule set out in the Copyright Act: Employees. Where a work is made by an employee (rather than a freelancer) as part of that person s job, the employer usually owns copyright. For people employed on staff who are creating material for newspapers, magazines and other periodicals, the employer will own most of the copyright, but the employee will usually own copyright for some purposes (photocopying and publication in books). Freelance photographers, engravers and people doing portraits. Freelance creators usually own copyright in what they create. Someone who pays for work to be created will generally not own copyright, but will be able to use it for the purposes for which it was commissioned. However, there are a number of situations where someone who commissions another person to create material for them will own copyright under the rules set out in the Copyright Act. This is the case in relation to commissioned portraits and engravings, and is sometimes the case for photographs.
4 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 4 4 Films and sound recordings. The first owner of copyright in a film is usually the producer or the person who paid for it to be made. The first owner of copyright in a sound recording is usually the person who paid for the recording to be made. However, in some cases, performers recorded on sound recordings own a share of the copyright in those sound recordings. A State, Territory or Federal Government will usually own copyright in material created, or first published by it or under its direction or control. Any of the rules in the Copyright Act about who will own copyright can be altered by agreement. For more detailed information about the rules in the Copyright Act, including information about how the ownership rules have changed over time, see our information sheet Ownership of Copyright and also our information sheet Assigning & Licensing Rights. The copyright notice and The copyright notice consists of the symbol, followed by the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication: for example, Gus O Donnell For sound recordings, the letter P (for phonogram) in a circle or in brackets is used instead of the C in a circle. The copyright notice does not need to be on something to ensure that it is protected by copyright in Australia or in most other countries, but it does remind people that the work may be protected. It also lets people know who is claiming copyright and is the presumed copyright owner. Copyright owners can put the notice on their work themselves; there is no formal procedure. Generally, while there is no legal problem under Australian law in using a pseudonym or nom de plume, in a copyright notice you should use your real name. Given that there is no legal requirement for your name to appear on a work for it to be protected, the use of a pen name or pseudonym will not generally affect the copyright protection for your work. However, a work first published under a pseudonym may only be protected for 70 years from the year of publication, rather than 70 years from the year of your death, if your identity later cannot be ascertained by people wanting to use your work. If a company owns copyright, the copyright notice should include the name of the company. However, if someone trades under a business name, the correct name to put in the copyright notice is not the business name but the names of the relevant individual or individuals. The reason for this is that copyright is a form of property, and a business name is not a legal entity, and therefore cannot own property; only individuals and incorporated bodies such as companies can own property (including copyright). You could, however, use a formulation such as Bob Jobs t/as Jobs4U 1983, where the t/as indicates that at that time Mr Jobs was trading as that particular business name. If you are regularly updating a work (such as material on a website, or a computer program), you can include all the years from first publication to the present: for example, Gus O Donnell Sometimes you will see the words All rights reserved as well as, or instead of, the copyright notice. This is not necessary under Australian law, nor in most other countries. However, if the first publication of your work will be in a country outside Australia, you should seek advice from a solicitor with the relevant expertise. How do I prove I m the copyright owner if there s no registration system? If there s a dispute about who created something protected by copyright, it may need to be resolved by a court. There is a presumption that a person named in a copyright notice is the copyright owner. However, a court would look at all the relevant evidence such as, oral evidence from the creator and from people who saw the material being created or who saw early copies. Other evidence may include drafts of the work. Such cases are, however, extremely rare.
5 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 5 5 For further information on this issue, see our information sheet Protecting your Copyright. The copyright owner s exclusive rights Owners of copyright have a number of exclusive rights over their material. Anyone who wants to use someone else s material in any of these ways generally needs permission. Different rights apply to different types of material. Literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works Owners of copyright in works have the exclusive right to: reproduce the work (including by photocopying, copying by hand, filming, recording and scanning); make the work public for the first time; and communicate the work to the public (for example, via fax, , broadcasting, cable or the internet). Owners of copyright in literary, dramatic and musical works have two additional exclusive rights: to perform the work in public (this includes performing a work live, or playing a recording or showing a film containing the work, in a non-domestic situation); and to make an adaptation (for example, a translation or dramatised version of a literary work, a translation or non-dramatic version of a dramatic work, or an arrangement or transcription of a musical work). Films, sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions Owners of copyright in films, sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions have the exclusive right to copy their material. In addition, there are rights relating to: showing films and playing recordings in public; transmitting films and sound recordings to the public using any form of technology (via , broadcasting, cable or the internet, for example); and rebroadcasting television and sound broadcasts. Rental rights Owners of copyright in computer programs, sound recordings and works on sound recordings (such as music) have the exclusive right to rent out articles such as compact discs and CD-ROMs. See our information sheets Renting items protected by copyright and Lending items protected by copyright for further information. Control over importation In some cases, copyright owners can also control who imports copies of their material into Australia. This can be the case even if the material was legitimately made overseas. See our information sheet Importing copyright items for more information. Assigning and licensing rights Copyright owners can assign (generally, sell) or license their rights. Assigning rights means someone else becomes the copyright owner; licensing means another person can use the copyright material.
6 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 6 6 Assignments and licences can apply to all the rights in the material, or to just one or some of the rights. For example, a writer can assign or license just the right to reproduce his or her story in a book, but keep all other rights. In addition, a copyright owner may restrict an assignment or licence in various ways: to particular countries; or to a particular period of time; or to a set number of copies; or to a particular format (for example, hard-copy only, or in brochures but not in posters), for example. A copyright owner may also set certain conditions, such as payment, as part of their agreement to assign or license rights. While assignments and exclusive licences must be in writing and signed by or on behalf of the copyright owner to be fully effective, it is good business practice to put all agreements relating to copyright into writing. This need not be a formal document, in many cases an will be sufficient. For further information, see our information sheet Assigning & licensing rights. How long does copyright last? Until 1 January 2005, copyright generally lasted for the life of the relevant creator plus 50 years. There were various exceptions to this rule, including: where a work was not published, performed or broadcast during a creator s lifetime; and where something was published anonymously or under a pseudonym, and the identity of the creator couldn t reasonably be ascertained. (In each of these cases, copyright lasted for 50 years from the end of the year the work was, with permission, first published, performed or broadcast.) Under the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, Australia agreed to extend the general duration of copyright. As a result, the rules now are that copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years and where duration depends on year of publication, it lasts until 70 years after it is first published. The Free Trade Agreement did not, however, include any obligation to revive copyright if copyright had already expired. This means that if, under the old rules, copyright had already expired by 1 January 2005, it stays expired and the material can be used freely under Australian law. Note, however, that the duration of copyright varies from country to country. Where, for example, material is to be reproduced or sold overseas, or where performances are to take place in another country, advice may be needed to determine whether relevant copyright material is still protected in that country, and therefore whether any permissions may be needed in relation to the use of the material in that country. For further information, see our information sheet Duration of copyright. Infringement of copyright Using copyright material in one of the ways exclusively reserved to the copyright owner without permission Unless a special exception applies, people who use copyright material in any of the ways exclusively controlled by the copyright owner without permission infringes copyright. Using part of a work without permission may also infringe copyright if that part is an important part the part doesn t need to be a large part. In this context, the issue is not whether you have changed or added something to the copyright material, but whether the part you have used is an important, essential or distinctive part of the original material. For more detailed information, see our information sheet Quotes & Extracts.
7 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 7 7 Other ways in which copyright can be infringed People may also infringe copyright if they: authorise infringement (that is, endorse or sanction someone else s infringement for example, by asking or encouraging them to infringe copyright, or by providing them with the means to do so); import certain types of items containing copyright material (see our information sheet Importing copyright items); or sell infringing articles or certain types of items containing copyright material which were imported without permission (see our information sheet Importing copyright items). You can find further information on what to do if you think your copyright has been infringed or if you have been accused of having infringed copyright in our information sheets Infringement: what can I do? and Infringement: actions, remedies, offences, penalties. Hacking, cracking, mod chipping and decoding Copyright owners and broadcasters sometimes use technology to try to protect digital material from unauthorised access or use (for example, by encrypting material or encoding broadcasts). In some cases, copyright owners also use technology to identify and monitor digital copies of their material ( electronic rights management information ). Under the Copyright Act, copyright owners can take action against people who circumvent technological measures which control access to copyright material. Copyright owners can also generally take action against people who make, sell, import or rent out devices which are used to circumvent technological measures and against people who provide circumvention services. Copyright owners can also take action against people who remove or alter electronic rights management information. In many cases, it can also be a criminal offence to deal commercially with circumvention or decoding devices, to offer decoding or circumvention services, to alter or remove electronic rights management information, or to deal with copyright material knowing that rights management information has been removed from it. For further information, see our information sheet Infringement: Actions, Offences, Remedies & Penalties. Activities which don t infringe copyright There are a number of situations in which people can use copyright material without permission for public policy reasons. The provisions in the Copyright Act which cover these situations (referred to as defences or exceptions ) are mostly very specific. For example, there are provisions that allow reviewers and students to use copyright material without permission provided their use is fair (for further information, see our information sheets Research or Study and Fair Dealing. There are also special provisions for libraries, educational institutions and government bodies. In some cases, certain procedures must be followed, and in some cases fees must be paid (for more information, see our information sheets and practical guides). There are, however, no provisions in the Copyright Act that give non-profit organisations a general exemption from having to comply with copyright obligations merely because they are non-profit. The exceptions allowing certain personal uses of copyright material including taping from TV and individuals copying recordings they own are very narrow and subject to specific limitations.
8 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 8 8 Moral rights Individual creators have rights called moral rights, whether or not they own copyright. These are the rights to: be attributed as the creator of their work; take action if their work is falsely attributed as being someone else s work or is altered by someone else but attributed as if it were unaltered; and take action if their work is distorted or treated in a way that is prejudicial to their honour or reputation. For more information, see our information sheet Moral Rights. Performers rights The Copyright Act also gives some rights to performers. These rights are in addition to the rights of the copyright owners and creators of the material performed. Under the Copyright Act, people generally need to get consent from a performer to record or broadcast a live performance. The performer s consent may also be needed to use an unauthorised recording of a performance, or to use an authorised sound recording of a performance on a film soundtrack. Performers on audio recordings have additional rights, including moral rights. For more information, see our information sheets Performers Rights. General advice to creators and copyright owners Creators and owners of copyright should regard their copyright as valuable property and deal with it in a business-like way. It is a good idea to keep dated copies of material such as manuscripts, negatives, footage and recordings, as well as copies of all letters or other communications with people who have access to the work. Generally, it is a good idea for any agreements about copyright to be in writing. It is also a good idea to get legal advice before signing any document dealing with copyright, or before finalising any other arrangement relating to copyright. Other areas of law Intellectual property is a general term covering a number of areas of law. Copyright is one of these areas. Some other areas of law are sometimes confused with copyright. We briefly outline these below. There is also legislation such as the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 that control the use of particular signs, such as the use of the Olympic rings. Trade marks If you are using a name or logo (and in some cases, a colour, sound or smell) in your business, you may be able to register it as a trade mark. Unlike copyright, trade mark protection requires registration and paying a fee. Registration gives you protection against other people using a substantially identical or deceptively similar mark in the course of trade. Trade marks are registered with IP Australia, Passing-off and the Australian Consumer Law The law known as passing off protects business reputation or goodwill. It can be used to stop people cashing in on someone else s name (including a brand name) or image, or on other distinctive features of someone else s business. There are similar provisions about misleading the public in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
9 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia 9 9 Designs Designs law may be used to protect articles that do not come within the scope of copyright law or where copyright protection is limited. Designs protection covers the appearance or shape of articles that have some functional purpose, not how they work. To get design protection the design must be registered with IP Australia, The interaction between design law and copyright is in some cases very complex. If you have created something which might be protected under either or both areas of law, it is very important that you get appropriate and early legal advice. General information on the interaction is provided in our information sheet Designs for Functional Articles. Plant Breeders Rights Plant varieties are also capable of protection. For more information go to IP Australia s website at Confidential information Copyright does not protect ideas or information. However, someone using information or ideas they have got from someone else in confidence may have breached a duty of confidentiality. For further information, see our information sheet Ideas: Legal Protection. Patents Patents protect inventions, including processes, methods and techniques. However, the protection will only be granted for a device, substance, method or process if it is new, inventive and useful. Patent protection requires registration with IP Australia, Defamation The law of defamation protects people s reputations, and concerns the way you speak about or refer to people and how you use their images. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Where do I register my copyright for protection in Australia? Under Australian law, there is no registration of copyright. Copyright rights come into existence at the same time as someone creates something which is a type of material that copyright protects. For example, copyright is automatically created by writing down a story; typing up a poem; shooting film footage; recording music; and taking a photo. Copyright protection is free: there are no procedures to follow or fees to pay. How many changes to something do I need to make to avoid infringing copyright? Generally, making changes to something won t avoid a copyright infringement. If, for example, you want to use something someone else has created on your website, or in a brochure, or even for purely personal purposes you might need permission even if you are using only a small part of that material, or if you make changes to it. When working out whether or not you will need to get permission, it is more important to look at what is still the same, rather than what has been changed. You will usually have a copyright issue to deal with if you are using any important, distinctive or essential part of the original material this may or may not be a large proportion of that material.
10 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia Is material from overseas protected by copyright? As a result of Australia s obligations under a number of international treaties, almost all copyright material created overseas is also protected in Australia under the Australian Copyright Act. Is material from Australia protected overseas? As a result of a number of international treaties, copyright in material created by Australian residents, citizens and nationals is recognised in most countries overseas. For more information, see our information sheet Copyright Protection in other Countries. Can children own copyright? Copyright material can be created (and owned) by anyone, no matter what their age: children or centenarians. Research sources The Copyright Act can be viewed online at: Further information For further information about copyright, our publications or seminar program, see our website If you meet our eligibility guidelines, a Copyright Council lawyer may be able to give you free preliminary legal advice about a copyright issue that is not addressed in an information sheet. This service is primarily for professional creators and arts organisations but is also available to staff of educational institutions and libraries. For information about the service, see Reproducing this information sheet Our information sheets are regularly updated - please check our website to ensure you are accessing the most current version. Should you wish to use this information sheet for any purpose other than your reference, please contact us for assistance. About Us The Australian Copyright Council is an independent, non-profit organisation. Founded in 1968, we represent the peak bodies for professional artists and content creators working in Australia s creative industries and Australia s major copyright collecting societies. We are advocates for the contribution of creators to Australia s culture and economy; the importance of copyright for the common good. We work to promote understanding of copyright law and its application, lobby for appropriate law reform and foster collaboration between content creators and consumers. We provide easily accessible and affordable practical, user-friendly information, legal advice, education and forums on Australian copyright law for content creators and consumers.
11 Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G010v18: An Introduction to Copyright in Australia The Australian Copyright Council has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Australian Copyright Council 2014
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1 Criminal Code (Child Pornography and Abuse) Explanatory Notes General Outline Short Title The short title of the Bill is the Criminal Code (Child Pornography and Abuse). Policy Objectives of the Legislation
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Rules for Use of the Tony Awards Trademarks and Materials (2014) Introduction In 1947, the American Theatre Wing, Inc. (the Wing ) founded the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Broadway Theatre
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Top 10 Questions About Intellectual Property Otherwise known as: How do I Trademark my Patents at the Copyright Office? Rebecca Bishop 6500 City West Parkway, Suite 100 Eden Prairie, MN 55344 (952) 253-4100
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THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW AND THE INTERNET Whenever you open a newspaper or a magazine, you are bombarded with articles singing the praises of the Internet, the super highway. For the technophobiacs
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by KELLY L. MOFFATT The Canadian intellectual property regime comprises six federal statutes that have evolved in response to issues such as global technological developments, international treaties and
Intellectual Property For Designers Jefferson Coulter PLLC Legal Solutions 1216 Pine Street Suite 201 Seattle, WA 98101 206.957.8181 www.coultertm.com 2 What Intellectual Property Rights Are Implicated
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IP is your business Intellectual Property (IP) is one of your most important assets. IP is your business What is Intellectual Property? A: Intellectual property (IP) is a term that describes the application
intellectual property bulletin June 2012 copyright reform Bill C - 11 After several failed attempts, the federal government has finally passed copyright reform legislation, namely Bill C-11, the Copyright
This Time Safety & Security in ICT Systems INFO 2 Oliver Boorman-Humphrey www.oliverboorman.biz This time we look at the need to protect data in ICT systems and the subsequent threats if these measures
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Release Form Information We have attached 3 release forms that you can use and amend for your purposes: 1. Adult and Child Release Forms It is good practise to ask all of the people in your film to sign
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February 2004 Legal Risks Associated With Email and Internet Use and Abuse by Employees The potential for abuse of email and Internet facilities provided at the workplace is virtually limitless and could
The Intellectual Property System in Ethiopia By Wondwossen Belete Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office December 2004 Addis Ababa The explanations in this presentation cover: The Legal Framework for the
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Answers for Artists Copyright Moral Rights Contracts Insurance + Liability A Guide to Basic Legal Issues for Artists DISCLAIMER The information in this publication is general and is intended as a guide
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