The Australian copyright law reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Australian copyright law

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Australian copyright law is based on the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and defines copyright in Australia. The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (as amended) is the current national copyright legislation. It does not cover all forms of intellectual property, for example, trademarks, patents and circuit layouts are covered by separate legislative Acts. However, designs may be covered by the Copyright Act (as sculptures or drawings) as well as by the Design Act.

Table of contents
1 Duration of copyright
2 Fair dealing
3 Moral rights
4 Ownership of copyright
5 Government-owned copyright
6 Composite copyright
7 Copyright Tribunal
8 Timeline of Australian copyright law
9 List of some possible copyright-infringing actions in Australia
10 List of some possibly non-violating actions in Australia
11 References

Duration of copyright

Australia uses a "plus 50" rule for determining when a work will enter the public domain. Put simply, a work enters the public domain 50 years following the year of the creator's death, with exceptions. For example, an author who died in 1950 entered the public domain in 2001. Photographs and anonymous/pseudonymous works are copyright for 50 years from their first publication. Most other works are also dated from the first publication/broadcast/performance where this occurred after the author's death. The period of 50 years is counted from the end of the relevant calendar year, and was the minimum term under the Berne Convention.

By contrast, the European Union has adopted a "plus 70" rule, with a foreign reciprocity clause to encourage harmonisation of the period. The United States Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (1998) defines an entirely different rule based on the year of first publication in the US: generally, anything published before 1923 is public domain. An interesting consequence of this for the Internet is that a work may be public domain in the US but not in Australia, or vice versa. It is important to note that copyright does not depend on the country of origin of publication or of the author. A work published in the US by a British author may still be public domain in Australia if the author died more than 50 years ago.

Fair dealing

Fair dealing is specifically recognised as not being a copyright violation. It is defined in terms of the type of work, the degree of copying, the purpose, the availability of commercial copies, and the commercial impact. Acceptable purposes vary by type of work, but the possibilities are:

Fair dealing is not the same as fair use, a term which is used to allow for reasonable personal use of works, e.g. media-shifting. Australian copyright law effectively allows fair use for computer software (see List of some possibly non-violating actions in Australia below).

Moral rights

In 2000, moral rights were recognised in Australian copyright legislation. Only individuals may exercise moral rights.

List of moral rights in Australia

Automatic resale rights (royalty payments to the author on subsequent resales of the original and reproductions) are not covered by Australian legislation.

Ownership of copyright

Copyright is free and automatic upon creation of the work. A copyright notice (é) is not required on a work to gain copyright, but only the copyright owner is entitled to place a notice. It is useful in publishing the date of first publication and the owner.

Government-owned copyright

The Australian Commonwealth and State governments routinely own copyright in Australia. While this could be seen as being due to the concept of the Crown being traditionally paramount rather than the people, it is more influenced by the then British Commonwealth acting as a copyright policy-making body in the 1950s, which was the basis of the 1968 Copyright Act.

The Australian government does not infringe copyright if its actions (or those of an authorised person) are for the government. A "relevant collecting society" may sample government copies and charge the government.

The State governments follow different practices in regard to licensing, fees and waivers.

The many aspects of Crown copyright are currently under formal review by the Australian Attorney-General's Copyright Law Review Committee, currently in the stage of accepting submissions.

Composite copyright

Material can contain multiple copyrights, that are not diminished by their combination or mingling. For example a television broadcast is copyright, as is the visual footage and soundtrack, as well as the screenplay, music and lyrics.

Copyright Tribunal

The Copyright Tribunal was established under the Copyright Act 1968, and has certain powers relating to royalties and licensing. It receives operational support from the Federal Court of Australia.

Timeline of Australian copyright law

List of some possible copyright-infringing actions in Australia

List of some possibly non-violating actions in Australia

References