We have extensive experience in copyright matters, and can provide a full range of copyright services including:
- all aspects of copyright law and management for the arts, media and entertainment, film and performance industries; interactive gaming; fashion; digital music; and websites providing Internet content
- identification of copyright works and term of protection
- contract drafting and negotiation, licences and releases
- a ‘cease and desist’ letter that puts a person or business on notice of their copyright infringement and instructs them to stop
Meaning of copyright
Copyright relates to artistic creations, such as films, books, music, sound recordings, music, paintings and sculptures, photographic works, films, multi-media productions and technology-based works such as computer programs and electronic databases.
The basic principle of copyright is that the creator is granted an exclusive right to exploit his or her work, and to authorise others to do so.
Copyright does not protect the idea expressed by a creation but rather the material expression of the idea. It rewards creators by giving them a bundle of exclusive economic rights that give them control over their work.
Copyright is automatically applied to any work that is an original creation and not a copy.
Importance of Copyright
Copyright is important because it helps prevent the unauthorised use of a creator’s original work. It promotes creativity by giving creators an asset they can commercialise: the right to reproduce their work, and to use it commercially (e.g. by publishing, publically displaying or communicating it to the public). Copyright also encourages investment in, and the preservation of art, culture and software markets.
As a copyright owner, you can licence or authorise someone else to use your creation, you can assign them some rights over your creation, or you can give them complete ownership of your creation.
You can also exercise moral rights in the work, which include the right to be attributed as the author, the right to prevent others from falsely claiming they are the author and the right to prevent the work from being subject to derogatory treatment.
If someone copies your copyright works, you will have legal grounds to enforce your rights for the infringement, including that the person pay you for a licence to use your work or to compensate you for any financial loss that you have incurred.
You should seek legal advice before taking action against an infringer, as threats of legal proceedings are actionable in Australia under the Copyright Act.
Employees and contractors
You should ensure that your employee agreements contain a comprehensive assignment of IP rights. You don’t automatically own the copyright in a work if you commission someone to do it for you (e.g. your website or logo). Make sure you obtain the rights in any work you commission, including any software and the design of a logo. When hiring outside consultants, protect your business by ensuring that you have a written contract which assigns all IP rights to you.
Software and databases
Copyright protects literary and artistic works which includes software and databases. Computer programs are expressly addressed in the Copyright Act to comprise a ‘literary work’ and are defined in s10 as “a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result”. The copyright in a computer program is generally expressed in the set of instructions contained in the source code.
There are no registration formalities to protect copyright in Australia. It is good practice to use copyright notices to put others on notice of your IP rights on the works created by you or your business (e.g. © 2016 Umbrella Corporation. All rights reserved.)