Copyright is an intellectual property right, which gives authors, creators and artists a suite of rights over material they create.
In Australia, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act 1968. This act outlines the rights of copyright owners, and details how copyright works can be used. There is no need to register for copyright in Australia. A work is protected as soon as it is put into material form, such as being written down or recorded.
The Law enables the person who created the material to have rights over what happens to it, including who can:
Reproduce the material – photocopy, scan, download and save
Publish – make it available, put on the internet, print in a book, put on a cover of a magazine, install in a public place
Perform – sing, put on a public performance, act it out, recite
Communicate the material to public – send out to public, put on the internet, distribute the book
Make adaptations of the material – translate to different languages, turn it into something else like a book to a TV show
Types of material protected by copyright
From books and paintings to even memes, a wide variety of material is protected by copyright.
The types of material that are protected are identified in the Copyright Act 1968 under two sub-groups - original works and subject matter other than works.
Original works are divided into four categories: literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works.
Literary - books, emails, timetables, databases, journals, magazines, websites, software code, poems, newspapers, data forms, song lyrics
Dramatic - choreography, scripts, circus, theatrical production
Broadcasts (television and radio) - anything broadcast on traditional broadcasting technology on television or radio
Published edition - anything published in traditional books, journals, magazines, compact discs, DVDs
Ownership of copyright
The creator of copyright material generally owns the rights to their work, although there are some exceptions:
If work is created during the course of employment, the employer owns the rights to the work.
Creators can give away, sell (assign) or rent (license) some or all of their rights to a person or company. For example an author could sell the movie adaptation right of their book to a film company.
Contractual agreements to create material may include who will own the copyright of the material. For example a research funding agreement may stipulate that the funding organisation owns all copyright rights.
For students: As a student studying at ACU, you create your own copyright material through assessments, essays and research. You own the copyright to this material and have a responsibility to manage it.
For researchers: In the course of your research, you will create your own copyright material through data collection and publishing your results. Except in certain circumstances, you own the copyright to this material and need to manage copyright in what you have created.