Reading time: 4 minutes

Do you publish or host content online? Perhaps you collate the week’s best Medium posts or are a prolific blogger about street style. We set out below who owns or controls your content online as well as what steps you can take to protect your creative works. If you upload third party content, we will also look at the exceptions to copyright infringement.

What is Online Content?

Content captures images, videos, podcasts or articles that a user publishes online. Australia’s Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (the Act) protects the expression of an author’s idea. Importantly, the Act does not protect mere ideas.

Copyright is automatic in Australia and attaches itself to “original work” expressed in a “material form” – that is, the author must write the article, publish their video online or in another tangible format. There is no registration process. Notwithstanding, the law considers that the author of copyrighted material will need to take active steps to protect and enforce their rights. You should explicitly state in your website terms of use that you are the work’s original author and own the intellectual property.

Who Owns Your Content Online?

The circumstances under which you create the work will affect who owns your content online. Generally, the author of the work will own the copyright unless they have assigned or licenced their rights.

Another situation whereby the author does not own the copyright in their work is when an employee has completed the work as part of their employment. Here, the employer owns and controls the employee’s work. For example, an employee that completes medical research in a lab. The employer pays the employee and the employment agreement clearly states that the employer owns any intellectual property the employee creates. This ownership means the employer has the exclusive right to ‘exploit’ the work – that is, reproduce, publish it online and/or make adaptations to the work.

What are Moral Rights?

If you have created content online, you as the original author will have the moral rights to your work to help protect the integrity and ownership of your work. These moral rights are non-transferable and cannot be purchased.

Moral rights are:

  1. The author’s right of integrity;
  2. Right of attribution; and
  3. The right not to have authorship falsely attributed.

Under the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000, anybody dealing with “creative work” must uphold the creator’s moral rights. Further, moral rights also apply to copyright material made available online per the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2001. 

What is Fair Dealing?

People other than the owner or author can reproduce copyright material published online if it falls within the ambit of “fair dealing”. Under the Act, another person is allowed to reproduce a work without the owner’s permission if it is for the following purposes:

  1. Research or study;
  2. Criticism or review;
  3. Parody or satire; and
  4. Reporting the news.

Factors such as the whether there is a commercial purpose for reproduction and if the owner suffers a loss from the reproduction will likely affect whether the dealing is fair.

Facebook and Copyright Law

Facebook is an increasingly popular platform for authors to post and share their creative works. Posting your work on Facebook will not remove your right to assert ownership over your intellectual property. You do, however, need to take active steps to protect your intellectual property. If you believe someone is infringing your IP rights on Facebook, you can fill out a form and submit it to Facebook’s representatives. It is also prudent that you send a message to the person who is infringing your work and request they take it down immediately.


If you have any questions about how you can protect your content online, get in touch with our intellectual property lawyers on 1300 544 755.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards