How to protect your Copyright?

Copyright issues arise everywhere in our daily lives without us even realising such as where you post a Twitter or upload a Tik Tok video. This article focuses on Australia’s copyright laws (Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)) and some common issues people concern.


What kind of works are protected by copyright?

Generally, copyright is an intellectual property right that helps people to protect their original work. Unlike trademark, there is no copyright registration system in Australia. However, this does not mean that there is a low standard of copyright protection in Australia. On the contrary, works are automatically protected by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) once the works are created as copyright protection is not subject to registration of the works.The scope of copyright protection is also very wide. The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) not only protects literary works such as articles, novels, reports, poems, lyrics, etc., but also protects other works such as software, plan drawings, scripts, artworks, pictures, songs, videos, recordings, etc. In fact, as long as the original works are created through expression of ideas, they can be protected by copyright.



However, there are certain exceptions which are excluded from the protection of copyright, such as ideas, concepts, information, etc.For example, if you write an outline for your video program, the written text will be protected by copyright as a literary work. However, other people can use your idea to rewrite their own script, which will not infringe your copyright. Nonetheless, if other people copy the core part of your work in the process of rewriting their script, then it is also possible to infringe your copyright. This requires specific analysis of specific circumstances.In addition, copyright does not protect names, portraits, slogans, etc.For example, putting a photo of a celebrity you take on the Internet will not infringe the copyright of the celebrity. This is because the portrait itself does not fall under the scope of copyright protection, but it may violate other laws such as portrait rights.


What kind of rights does the copyright owner have?
Generally, the copyright owner has many unique rights to the work, including the right to publish, copy, adapt, make the work public for the first time, etc. Anyone who wishes to use the work needs to obtain permission from the copyright owner.For example, A wrote a song that has not been published yet, and his friend B listened to this song and thought it was impressive. B then performed this song to the public without authorisation. Such conduct has violated A’s copyright.Another example, C has written a novel that is very popular. D is a filmmaker. If D wishes to create a movie based on C’s novel, then D needs to obtain C’s permission.The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) also provides for some exceptions, namely fair dealing. This means people can reasonably use other people’s works without permission under these exceptions. For example, students can use other people’s works reasonably without permission for personal learning purposes.


Who is the copyright owner?

Sometimes the copyright owner is not the original author.For instance, an employee of a company writes an article during work. It is generally the employer who has the copyright of the work.Another copyright issue is in relation to photos. Generally, the copyright of the photos belongs to the photographer. However, if you pay someone to take photos for private or family purposes, such as wedding photos, family portraits, etc., then it is generally considered that the copyright of the photos belongs to you, not the photographer.If the copyright ownership is not clear between the parties, we recommend you to specify in the agreement to make sure you will have the exclusive ownership of the copyright.


Will copyright be protected internationally?

Australia has joined many international intellectual property treaties, such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Universal Copyright Convention, etc. Most countries and regions in the world have joined these international intellectual property treaties.

This means that works published in Australia will also be protected in most other countries or regions under the treaties based on copyright protections. Similarly, works published in other countries will also be protected in Australia.

We recommend that the copyright owner could insert a copyright statement at the end of the work to prevent potential infringements by others. The statement should include the symbol © + the name of the copyright owner + the year of first publication, such as “© Fumens Lawyers 2021”. Please consult our experienced lawyers if you have any copyright issues.