If you have written a book, written a song, painted a picture or have taken a photo you may have copyright in those things.
If you have ever written a book or lyrics to a song, painted a picture or have taken a photo, you may have copyright in those things. Copyright is a complex area of law and requires a great deal of research and legal consideration as to whether your work is eligible to be protected by the Copyright laws.
What is Copyright?
Copyright is the term used to describe the bundle of rights that are granted by the Copyright Act to authors and artists in relation to their creations and/or creative works. These rights provide the author and/or artist with exclusive rights over the creation however, they are often only conferred for a limited period of time. Copyright is usually relied upon to prevent others from reproducing or copying the work without the owner’s permission.
It is important to note that copyright cannot be relied upon to protect single words or insubstantial phrases. These matters will need to make an application for a trademark in order to be protected.
What is protected by Copyright?
Unlike trademarks and patents where you need to apply or register in order to be protected, you will not be required to register for copyright. Copyright automatically protects work once it is transformed into a material form.
While this means that you do not necessarily have to have a copyright notice on your work and/or product, it is still highly observed amongst owners of works because it is an effective measure to prevent disputes.
Information that you may consider including in your copyright notice includes:
- The year you created your work and/or the year your work was published
- Your name and contact details (email is generally fine here)
- The copyright warning itself, notifying persons that any reproduction of the work without the owner’s consent is an infringement
If you are unsure whether your work is protected by copyright laws, please contact our office today to discuss the matter with our expert lawyers.
What can be classified as a ‘work’ under the Australian Copyright laws?
The legislation states that copyright is afforded to protect ‘works’ which is described as literary, dramatic or artistic work. When reviewing copyright claims, we often come across the following creations being categorised as follows:
- Literary works: poems, lyrics, novels, articles
- Dramatic works: Screenplays
- Artistic works: paintings, sculptures, photographs
Works such as films, television broadcasts, and sound recordings do not traditionally fit into the above categories however, they can still be afforded protection. Under the legislation, such works are referred to as “subject matter other than works”.
We recommend seeking legal advice to determine what your creation will be classified as and to see whether your work meets the minimum requirements to be protected.
Copyright infringement occurs when a person reproduces or copies the work without the consent of the owner who has been afforded the bundle of rights under the Copyright Act. The person who reproduces the work without consent will be found to have infringed the Australian Copyright laws.
Copyright infringement can be categorised into three separate categories, these are:
Direct Copyright Infringement
This is usually indicative whereby the work has been reproduced or published to the public without the consent of the owner.
Indirect Copyright Infringement
Indirect infringement occurs where the alleged infringer has not engaged in any conduct that is within the exclusive rights of the owner.
Authorised Copyright Infringement
This is a unique situation whereby a single source is permitting the use of reproduction, allowing hundreds to thousands of people to reproduce your work. Rather than pursuing each individual person who copied form the source, authorised copyright infringement aims to pursue the single source responsible.
There are numerous factors that must be proven in order to demonstrate that the infringer has engaged in copyright infringement. These factors often require reference to legislation and consideration of similar cases found within the common law. We recommend contacting our office today should you require assistance in determining whether you have a feasible copyright infringement case.
Commencing Copyright Proceedings
Once it has been determined that you have a feasible copyright case, you may commence proceedings against the infringer. It is important to note that you can only commence proceedings within six (6) years of when the infringement took place.
Please note that our courts will require you to take genuine steps to resolve the matter prior to commencing court proceedings. Such steps to resolve the matter may include:
- Dispute resolution (e.g., mediation or negotiation)
- Cease and desist letter
To ensure that you are complying with the regulations and to ensure that your own interests are protected, we recommend seeking legal advice to ensure that you are completing the process correctly.
Copyright can be a complex matter and requires legal consideration as to whether your work will qualify as being protected by copyright and whether the infringement classifies as an infringement of your copyright.
GLG Legal specialises in identifying copyright issues and we are able to provide you with sound advice on how to protect any copyright you may have and how to avoid infringing the copyright of others.
Not owning your copyright can be an expensive lesson. We can assist you with assignment and managing of your rights.