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What is Copyright?

The copyright laws are enshrined in Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968 in Australia. Simply put, this is a number of rights that are tailor made to protect artistic works, music, computer programs, films, creative works and sound recordings. More importantly, they are issued exclusively to the sole owner of the materials. This means that the owner is the only person who can reproduce the materials or show it to the public. You will be breaking the law if you reproduce or use someone else’s original materials without their consent. However, the owner can decide to sell the rights to a third party at any time. They do not protect concepts, techniques, styles or ideas. That is, it cannot protect an idea used to write a book or film a movie, but you will be faced with a legal tussle if you copy or use the original script to produce a new movie. Unlike in other countries, in Australia, copyright protection is automatic hence you do not need to register or put a copyright notice on your original work. In fact, it will be fully covered by the laws as soon as you write it down or record it as film or audio.  

When do you need to seek permission from copyright owner?

First it all depends with the kind of materials that you intend to reproduce. The copyright owner has a right to either agree or deny your application. Examples of instances that you need to seek permission from owner include when performing the work in public, copying or reproducing the work for commercial purposes, publish, adapt, rent or re-broadcast the materials.  

What to do if you cannot locate the copyright owner?

Luckily, there are a number of collecting organisations and societies that can help you get in touch with the copyright owner. Copyright Agency LTD is one of the renowned organisations that can help you out. Note that they are non-profit societies whose members are the copyright owners.  

What to do if someone infringes your copyright rights?

First, you need to check if indeed it’s a really infringement that can hold water in a court of law. It is also recommendable to check if you have any outstanding contractual issues with the person or party. Once you are sure that they are guilty, proceed and contact them as some may not be aware that the materials are copyright protected.  The Australian Copyright Council can help you ensure that they are held liable and pay for using your work unlawfully. Understanding how copyright laws work in Australia is one of the sure ways of protecting your original work. To find out more about protecting your work contact Greg Eliades.

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