How Does Copyright Affect Me?

5 ways to copyright your material

So many people are generally confused over copyright in Australia.  For me, I feel that the confusion relates to IP and Copyright. So here is the difference between them:

  • Intellectual Property…or IP for short! This could be an invention, trademark, design, brand or even the application of your idea. It is the property of your mind or proprietary knowledge (For more information on IP, refer to the IP Australia website).
  • Copyright on the other hand, is the legal right that gives you, the owner of the material, the protection to know that others cannot “copy” anything that you have created and pass it off as their own!

Now the really important point that many people ask is related to the cost…

There is no and I repeat NO REGISTRATION or FEES required!

In Australia, it is free and automatically is applied when you create your material.  IP on the other hand, does have fees associated with it.

Copyright is covered under Federal legislation in Australia, by a law that is set out in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).  Don’t be fooled by this date, the Act has been regularly updated! This allows for people like you and me to invest our effort, time and resources into creating new material.

There are many great resources available from both the Australian Government and the Copyright Council of Australia that explains all of this in much more detail than I have provided, so be sure to check out the links below for more information related to this.

So what is covered?

There is quite a lot of material that is covered or in some instances for sound recordings the letter P (for Phonogram) and here is the list that is currently covered:

  • Textual material
  • Computer programs
  • Compilations
  • Artistic works
  • Dramatic works
  • Musical works
  • Cinematograph films
  • Sound recordings
  • Broadcasts
  • Published editions

So if you create any of the above or anything within your business, this will affect you if someone decides that they want to use this material without asking or even crediting you for creating the material.

What not covered?

  • Ideas
  • Information
  • Styles
  • Techniques
  • Names
  • Titles
  • Slogans

Here are my top tips to protect your material:

  1. Adding the Copyright symbol © to any pieces of material you create (whilst not needed, this is a reminder for anyone reading your work!)
  • To add the symbol:
    WINDOWS:  press CTRL ALT C
    MAC:  press OPTION G
  1. Add your name
  2. Add your company name (although if someone trades under a business name, they should put the individuals name)
  3. Add the year created
  4. If regularly updating your work, include all years from first publication eg: 2018-2020

Here are some examples on how to use the above tips in your documents:

  • © Jo McKenzie 2018
  • © Jo McKenzie 2017-2018
  • © Jo McKenzie t/as Call on Jo 2018
  • © Jo McKenzie Call on Jo 2017-2018

At the moment, copyright now lasts for the life of the creator PLUS 70 years past your death. It used to be for the life of the created plus 50 years, but this changed from 1 January 2005 and under the Free Trade Agreement with USA.  However, it is important to note that the duration of copyright may also vary from country to country, likewise other countries may choose to charge a fee.

If you want more information related to Copyright, refer to the Australian Copyright Council who has some amazing fact sheets and resources that you can access. Alternatively check out the Australian Government site – Communications.

And my last resource is to check out Cathryn Warburton aka The Legal Lioness  who has a fantastic short video on Copyright (@AcaciaLawFirm on Facebook and check out their videos) and also has some great tips if you receive a letter of copyright infringement (click here).

So there you have it – the super easy user guide to Copyright!

Until next time!

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