What is copyright?
Copyright is intellectual property attributed to the skill and labour of an individual in the creation and expression of an original idea. Copyright protects original works such as literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works.
Copyright protection is automatically provided under the Copyright Act 1968, and gives the creator of the work exclusive rights to reproduce it, commercialise it and be recognised as its creator. There is no official register or database, as with other forms of intellectual property, where you can search to see if your idea is original.
Copyright material is protected from the time it is first written down, painted or drawn, filmed or taped. It also enjoys protection under the laws of other countries who are co-signatories with Australia to relevant international treaties.
What can be protected by copyright?
While copyright does not protect information or ideas per se, it does protect the original expression of information and ideas.
Copyright extends only to literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. The rights applicable to each of these categories vary.
Copyright doesn't protect against independent creation of a similar work. Legal actions against infringement are complicated by the fact that many different copyrights may exist for some works - particularly for films, broadcasts and multimedia products.
Design and copyright overlap
There is some overlap between design protection and copyright protection. If your design is two-dimensional, it may qualify for protection under both the Designs Act and the Copyright Act. If, however, your design is three-dimensional, you may lose the benefit of copyright protection if it has been industrially applied. An exception to this loss of copyright protection is where the copyright work is considered a ‘work of artistic craftsmanship’. It is important to ensure the right strategy is in place so that you preserve your ability to seek design registration, particularly if copyright protection is likely to be lost due to the design/copyright overlap.
How do I arrange for copyright?
Unlike other forms of intellectual property, in Australia copyright is not conferred by registration; instead, it automatically arises upon the creation of the original work in material form. This automatic right generally applies for the duration of the creator’s life plus 70 years, although this varies according to the nature of the work and whether or not it has been published.
Although a copyright notice with the owner's name and date is not necessary in Australia, it can help prove your ownership of a copyright, and is necessary to establish copyright in some countries overseas. A copyright notice is a note printed on a copyright work; it usually includes the © symbol, the date on which the work was created and the creator’s name. A copyright notice can act as a deterrent to potential infringers.
How can Actuate IP assist?
Actuate IP’s copyright lawyers provide an expert and tailored approach to implementing copyright strategies for businesses.
This also includes services related to copyright licensing contracts and copyright infringement disputes. We provide professional advice about how to implement appropriate copyright strategies to suit a variety of business types.
Contact Actuate IP to learn more.