Have you had a new idea? How will you express it? The expression of your idea is tangible and can be protected. The Copyright Act 1968 protects the original expression of ideas, rather than just an idea itself.

Once an idea is expressed, it acquires copyright protection. This does not need to be registered or applied for. It is wise to use a copyright notice to help identify your ownership over a certain method of expression. A copyright notice has the copyright symbol, creator name and year of creation, e.g. © Ursula Hogben 2014 or © LegalVision ILP Pty Ltd 2014

Copyright can apply to a range of works including:

  • Artwork
  • Music
  • Films
  • Books
  • Sound recordings and media broadcasts
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Databases
  • Computer programs

What are the copyrights?

The rights that copyright owners have in relation to their creations depend on whether the creations are categorised as works or materials.

The owner of a copyright in a work has the exclusive right to do any of the following things under Part III of the Act:

  • Reproduce the work in a material form;
  • Publish the work;
  • Perform the work in public;
  • Communicate the work to the public;
  • Make an adaptation of the work; Or
  • Enter into a commercial rental agreement in relation to the work.

Under Part IV of the Act, an owner has the following rights in relation to copyrighted materials:

  • The right to make a copy;
  • The right to have the material be seen or heard in public; Or
  • The right to communicate it to the public.

However it is important to note that copyright does not protect you against the creation of similar work within any industry. This can cause complication in terms of determining whether copyright has been infringed or not.


Licensing is a popular arrangement used by copyright owners to license the right to deal in a particular copyright. This may involve rights to reproduce or transmit the copyright to the public. When licensing, it is important to know which rights are being licensed and the conditions of that license.

Licensing may also be voluntary or statutory. Voluntary licensing relates to contractual agreements entered into by parties which are not compelled by the law. This may be through an express or implied license. Statutory licensing schemes acknowledge that certain copyrights need to be available to the public. An example of this would be the license given to schools to make copies of various works for educational purposes under a royalty scheme.


It is wise to get legal advice from an intellectual property lawyer to make sure that you adequately protect your original works.

Ursula Hogben
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