by Tash Hughes of
made to protect people’s work, but it is a very
complicated area of Law. Some of the major copyright
issues are explained below.
terms, the creator of the work is the owner of
copyright. However, there are exceptions to this, such
as when creating the work as part of employment when the
employer often owns the copyright.
be sold or given to other parties. The copyright owner
has the right to sell all copyright entitlements or just
some of them, and specific terms can be applied. For
instance, the right to copy the work may be given to
someone for a period of six months at the same time that
another party has the right to translate the work into
exists for the life of the creator plus seventy years*.
Thus, works by Shakespeare are no longer copyrighted as
he died more than seventy years ago. Copyright is passed
onto beneficiaries like any other possession or asset.
In cases where the creator is not established, the
copyright protection is for fifty years from
trying to gain permission to use another’s work, it may
not be the creator (or the beneficiaries thereof) who
owns the copyright.
of copyrighted material
protects work being copied and reproduced without the
To use material
that is copyrighted, you must gain approval from the
owner for the exact circumstances of use. Finding the
copyright owner can be done through agencies that deal
with creator’s copyright (examples in Australia are
listed below) or directly through the creator or
how difficult it is to find the copyright owner, using
the work without their permission is an illegal act and
may lead to prosecution.
exceptions to the gaining of permission for educational
purposes, reviews, library preservation and government
Electronic Copyright Issues
introduction of electronic media, copyright rules have
been stretched. It is much harder to restrict and police
reproduction of works via the Internet.
on the Internet puts work into the public domain but
doesn’t automatically make it available for all to use.
the Copyright Act 1968 was amended in March 2001 with a
new section called Copyright Amendment (Digital
Agenda) Act 2000. E-books, website text and emails
are now noted as part of the material protected by
lists activities such as printing from a website,
cutting & pasting from another site onto your own,
saving website material onto a disk or promoting website
material via intranet or email as being contrary to the
Act unless permission is granted first.
the amendment are essentially an extension of the
exemptions already covered by the Act.
programs are also protected by copyright, and this can
also be hard to police. This has resulted in a new term,
copyleft, which is effectively copyright with some
specific distribution terms attached.
applies mostly to software that the developer has made
freely available to the public. Having made the software
available, copyleft ensures that any later modifications
to the work must also be freely available to the public.
The Act was
also amended in 2002 to include the concept of Moral
are to protect the reputation of the creator by assuring
that they will always be acknowledged as the creator of
the unaltered work. That is, it is not enough to purely
acknowledge the creator when copying their work. The
work must be copied sufficiently that the context of the
work and its integrity are unaltered.
copyright itself, moral rights can’t be bought or sold –
they always remain with the creator.
In other words,
even if you own the copyright to someone else’s work,
you cannot misrepresent it.
Australian Law changed on 1 January 2005 so that
copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus seventy
years. This was not retrospective so copyright has
expired for anyone dying before 1955. The USA and Europe
have had the seventy year rule in place for longer.
Tash Hughes is
the owner of
Word Constructions and assists businesses
in preparing all written documentation and web site
content. Tash also writes parenting and business articles for
inclusion in newsletter and web sites.