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What is Copyright?

Defining Copyright

Copyright sits under a wider classification of Intellectual Property (IP) law which grants the copyright owner a monopoly over how their work can be used.  In Australia, the rights of creators and users of copyright material are enshrined in the Copyright Act 1968.

IP law also stipulates special rules for patents and trade marks; there are also Design Rights.

When Copyright Applies

Copyright protection in Australia is free and automatic as soon as content is in a material form. For content to be protected by copyright it must be:

  • in material form, (cannot simply be an idea expressed verbally), and
  • created by a human being.

Copyright protects a wide range of material. Examples include: journal articles, books, book chapters, conference papers, letters, images, AV and webpages. These can either be published or unpublished; online or in print. Usually, copyright does not protect ideas or concepts.

Learn more:

An Introduction to the History of Copyright

This module aims to give you an understanding of why Copyright laws were necessary and the implications for today’s world.