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Copyright and Moral Rights

Copyright - Infringement - Prosecution - Dispute resolution - Litigation

  • We can provide strategies for the management and growth of copyright portfolios;
  • Prosecute and defend copyright in Australia;
  • Prosecute and defend International copyright matters;
  • Assess the risk of infringement of copyright;
  • Advise on copyright licensing and assigning copyright.

Copyright protection is free and automatic in Australia and copyright protects the original expression of ideas, and not the ideas themselves. This allows authors and creators to expand knowledge.

Common works protected by copyright are:

  • books
  • films
  • music
  • sound recordings
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • artwork

Copyright also protects originally created:

  • typographical arrangements
  • databases
  • media broadcasts
  • computer programs
  • compositions of other people's work such as academic journals or CD compilations.

Australian copyright is administered by the Attorney-General's Department.

How It Works

The moment an idea or creative concept is documented, on paper or electronically, it is automatically protected by copyright. Copyright is automatic in Australia, and there is no official registration or application process for copyright protection.

Copyright protection is provided under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and gives you exclusive rights to license others in regard to copying your work, performing it in public, broadcasting it, publishing it and making an adaptation of the work. Rights vary according to the nature of the work, for example, artistic works, are different from those for literary and musical works.

Copyright doesn't protect you against independent creation of a similar work. Legal actions against infringement are at times complicated by the fact that a number of different copyrights may exist in some works - particularly films, broadcasts and multimedia products.

Copyright laws differ from country to country.

Consider Using a Copyright Notice

Although a copyright notice with the owner's name and date is not necessary in Australia, it can help prove your ownership of the copyright. Using a copyright notice can also act as a deterrent to potential infringers.

Copyright and Designs

Please note that copyright is lost if you apply a three-dimensional artistic work industrially. Most three-dimensional designs that are mass-produced have very limited copyright rights. This means if you have created a three-dimensional design for industrial purposes you will usually need to formally register it as a design in order to receive protection.

Duration of Copyright

Depending on the material, copyright for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works generally lasts 70 years from the year of the author's death or from the year of first publication after the author's death.

Copyright for films and sound recordings lasts 70 years from their publication and for broadcasts, 70 years from the year in which they were made.

Moral Rights

Moral rights are personal rights that connect authors to their work. Though they exist only in relation to copyright material, they are distinct from the economic rights included in copyright. An author cannot assign or sell moral rights in a work.

Moral rights arise automatically and have a legal meaning. There are three types of moral rights:

  • Right of attribution: this is the right of an author to be identified and named as the author of his/her work;
  • Right against false attribution:this is the right of an author to prevent others to be identified and named as the author of his/her work; and
  • Right of integrity: this is the right of an author to ensure that his/her work is not subjected to derogatory treatment. The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) defines "derogatory treatment" as any act in relation to the work that is in any manner harmful to the author's honour or reputation.

Liability by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation