What does copyright protect?
Material protected by copyright is divided into two broad categories of subject matter: works and subject matter other than works. Copyright protection of works protects written material, artistic works, musical works, dramatic works, computer programs, compilations (these include anthologies, directories and databases).
Copyright protection of subject matter other than works protects sound recording, cinematographic films, television and sound broadcasts and published editions of works. There are many other categories that are protected by copyright - more detailed information can be obtained through the Australian Copyright Council.
How is copyright infringed?
An infringement of copyright occurs where an act comprised in the copyright is done in relation to a 'substantial part' of a work or other subject matter. Therefore, if you reproduce an image, sound or video in a presentation, copy material produced by another person, use copyrighted text in a document, or make an extra copy of a computer program, without obtaining permission from the copyright owner, you may be infringing copyright.
Copyright may also be infringed where you communicate a work without permission. The exclusive nature of copyright enables the owner to take legal action to prevent others from exercising any of these rights and to be awarded damages in the event that an infringement occurs. Infringement can also incur criminal penalties against an individual and or an institution.
How long does copyright last?
Following is a table of categories of material and duration of copyright protection. Generally speaking, copyright lasts for life of the author, or creator, plus 70 years from the year in which the author or creator died.
A detailed table setting out the copyright terms that apply from 1 January 2019 under the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 201 is available on the Australian Government Communications and the Arts website.
What happens to material once the copyright has expired?
Material that is out of copyright is usually in the public domain. However, other copyright issues may apply, for example, if an out of copyright work has been revised and republished, there may be a new copyright period for the published version of that work.
ANU Copyright Officer:
T: 02 6125 2003