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What is copyright?

Copyright law protects the rights of owners and creators, and provides guidelines for how their work can and can't be used.

In Australia, copyright law is set out in the Copyright Act 1968.

Copyright protection is automatic under Australian law and applies regardless of whether the copyright symbol © is present.

The Act gives protection to eight categories:

  • Literary works (books, essays, poetry, conference papers, web pages, reports, computer programs, etc.)
  • Dramatic works (plays, scripts/screenplays, dance choreography)  
  • Musical works (compositions and performances, but separate to the recordings of these), and
  • Artistic works (paintings, drawings, photographs, illustrations, diagrams, sculptures, etc.)
  • Cinematograph films (any audio-visual material)
  • Sound recordings (of music, spoken word, compilation of sounds, etc.)
  • Broadcasts (TV and radio) and
  • Published editions of works.

The owner is usually the author or publisher of the work. The owner may give permission to others to use, publish, edit, play, perform etc.


Info sheets

For more information, read this Australian Copyright Council fact sheet:

An Introduction to Copyright in Australia.