Copyright lawyers Sydney

Copyright protects the expression of ideas (and not the ideas themselves). Ideas can broadly be expressed as literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works (e.g. written articles, song recordings, drawings, photos and even three dimensional works such as buildings). Films, sound recordings, broadcasts, and the typographical arrangement and layout of published editions are also specifically protected.

Copyright protection is provided for under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) which protects copyright owners against infringing acts occurring in Australia. In Australia, protection arises automatically upon creation to works which are first published in Australia or where the author was an Australian citizen or person resident in Australia. Australia is also obliged under international copyright conventions to protect foreign copyright material in the same way as a work first published in Australia for example. There is no requirement of registration. The duration of protection varies depending on the circumstances, but it generally subsists for 70 years. Moral rights also exist to protect the reputation of the author and ensure that works are presented in their intended form.

Copyright owners have the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce the work in a material form
  • Publish the work
  • Perform the work in public (unless it is an artistic work)
  • Communicate the work to the public
  • Make an adaptation of the work (unless it is an artistic work)

Similar specific rights apply to films, sound recordings, broadcasts, and the typographical arrangement and layout of published editions.

Generally, copyright is infringed if a person does or authorises the doing of one or more of the rights of the copyright owner without the owner’s licence or consent. The importation of infringing items is also protected. The copying need not be identical; the copying of a substantial part of the protected work may also be sufficient for infringement.

The primary remedies for infringement are (1) injunction (2) damages or account of profits and (3) additional damages. There are also various other available remedies which the court may grant.

The owner of copyright material can also lodge a notice of objection with the Comptroller-General of Customs (which lasts for 4 years unless the copyright has expired) to protect their copyright material so that customs may seize any copies being imported into Australia for the purposes of sale, hire, distribution or exhibition.

Artistic works which are protected under the copyright act should also be registered as designs before the design is industrially applied to a three dimensional product and sold in Australia so that the embodiment of the artistic work in a product is protected under the registered designs regime.

We can assist in relation to:

  • General copyright advice
  • Commercial agreements e.g. licences, assignments etc
  • Litigation and dispute resolution
  • Customs notices of objection

at fixed fee rates so you know up front what your costs exposure will be.

Contact our copyright lawyers in Sydney for a free initial consult and quote.