What is copyright

Copyright is a set of legal rights which allow a creator or copyright owner to control how others can make use of their works, and enables them to be remunerated for their artistic effort and use of their creations.  Copyright law seeks to balance the rights of the creator with the rights of the user, to ensure society can benefit from new works and ideas, but also protects the economic rights of the creator and encourages new creations.

Copyright in Australia is governed by the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act). This legislation gives the owner of copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, sound recordings, films and broadcasts exclusive rights to use those works.

Key concepts

  • Copyright covers the expression of an original idea or information protecting rights of the author/creator.
  • Copyright occurs automatically in Australia as soon as the work is created.
  • Fair Use is a US copyright law concept and does not apply in Australia.
  • Copyright can be transferred or sold.
  • Moral rights include the right of the creator to be attributed.

Find out in detail what works are covered, the duration of copyright in works, what rights does copyright grant, and how is copyright ownership established.