Copyright Lawyer Melbourne

Australian copyright laws exist to ensure that creators are incentivised to continue coming up with original content. Copyright does this by ensuring that creative works are protected, and that the owner or creator of the work is able to control how the work is used within an established legal framework. There is no registration required for copyright; the process is free and automatic. The laws apply to actions carried out within Australia, even if the material in question is foreign in origin. As soon as someone creates an original text or other protected form of content, copyright law applies to it. Copyright does not protect information, styles, ideas, techniques, names, titles, or slogans. It protects the physical expression of ideas; for example, a literary text. There are situations where copyright law allows for copyright material to be used without permission, usually for personal use. Intellectual property is an important specialisation for many law firms, and copyright is one of the main instruments used to lawfully protect intellectual property.

The law

Under Australian common law, copyright is enforced through the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968. Legislation at a commonwealth level, such as this, applies throughout Australia. Since its creation, the Act has been amended regularly to keep pace with new materials and media that may require copyright protection.

Copyright law can be interpreted differently depending on the situation, as there are some circumstances under which it is permissible to use copyright content. If you are unsure whether your copyright has been breached, you should contact a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property and copyright, as past cases may influence the outcome of your own.

The following are protected under Australian copyright laws:

  • Textual material – Can include literary materials such as books, poems, song lyrics, news reports, journal articles, etc.;
  • Computer programs – These are interpreted similarly to literary works under the law;
  • Artistic works – Includes paintings, cartoons, drawings, photographs, architect’s plans, etc.;
  • Dramatic works – Stage plays, choreography, miming etc.;
  • Compilations – Arrangements of selected material, receives separate protection to the individual pieces contained within it as the act of putting together such pieces may constitute a separate creative expression;
  • Musical works –The music separate to any recordings or lyrics;
  • Broadcasts – Broadcasts themselves are protected by copyright separate to that of the films or shows contained within them;
  • Sound recordings – Particular recordings are protected themselves, separate to the music or sound that was recorded;
  • Published editions – Publishers have copyright over arrangements they have been made of a particular text that is separate to that applied to the works that are reproduced within that published edition.

These things are protected if they can be demonstrated as being ‘original’, which for the purpose of copyright, means that it is not a copy of any existing work and that it has been created by a human author. Contact a Copyright Lawyer Melbourne today at LGM Advisors today on (03) 9832 0608 or by email at marketing@lgmadvisors.com.au.

It is important to remember that under copyright law, a single physical item may contain several separate copyrights. For example, a film contains a script, moving images, a soundtrack etc. All of which are protected by separate copyrights.

Exclusive rights

Once granted copyright protection, the owner of a copyright is granted several exclusive rights relating to that material. Generally, copyright owners have exclusive rights to:

  • Make reproductions of the work;
  • Reveal the work to the public;
  • Publish the work for a public audience;
  • Publically perform the work;
  • Create an adaptation.

Assigning (selling) and licensing these rights

Owners of copyright material also have the right to assign these rights to another individual or entity, meaning that they become the copyright owner. Alternatively, other parties may be licensed to use the copyright material, usually in a specific way that ensures the copyright owner’s interests are protected. Conditions may be set when distributing licenses, for example, a payment might be required, and/or the licensee may only use the material in a certain format.

Copyright notice

Consists of the ‘©’ symbol followed by the copyright owner’s name and the year that the content was first published. In Australia, the copyright notice does not need to be placed on something for it to be protected by copyright. Protection is automatic, but the notice may remind other parties that the content is protected. There is no specific procedure required when placing a copyright notice on work; an author may place the notice themselves without any prior approval.

How to prove that you own copyright

Disputes arising over copyright claims may need to be solved through legal arbitration or in court. It is generally assumed that whoever is named in the copyright notice is the copyright owner, but a court will examine evidence such as oral testimony and evidence of early copies or drafts to determine who is in fact entitled to copyright protection.

How long does copyright protection last?

Generally, copyright protection lasts the lifetime of the creator plus an additional 50 years. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example, if a work was not published during the lifetime of the creator, the creator will not receive copyright protection when it is eventually published.

Under the Free Trade Agreement signed between Australia and United States which became active in 2005, copyright protection now lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years. This does not apply to copyright that expired before 2005.

What constitutes a copyright infringement?

If another party uses copyright material in any of the ways which are reserved as exclusive rights to the copyright holder, without license or permission, they have infringed copyright. Even using a small part of the work in any of these ways may constitute copyright infringement.

Lawful use

There are some circumstances where copyright material can be used lawfully. The Act contains provisions to ensure that copyright materials can be used in a fair way, which is known as Fair Dealing. Copyright material may be used for satire, research, or education purposes for example. However, copyright cases are determine on an individual basis as there are a many factors that determine what constitutes fair or lawful use.

Contact LGM Advisors for a Copyright Lawyer Melbourne today on (03) 9832 0608 or by email at marketing@lgmadvisors.com.au.