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What is Copyright and How Does it Protect Your Work?

What is copyright, how is it protected and when does infringement occur?

Intellectual property rights protect and benefit the people who create them, own them, or who acquire the right to use them in another way.

Copyright is one form intellectual property.  The moment an idea or creative concept is documented on paper or electronically it is automatically protected by copyright in Australia. These expressions are called “works” under Copyright law. 

The Copyright Act protects different kinds of works, including books, films, music, sound recordings, newspapers, magazines and artwork.

If Copyright exists, no registration is needed.  The authors or owners of copyright automatically receive certain exclusive rights which expire 70 years from the date the author dies.  This includes the right to exclude others from reproducing, publishing, performing or adapting the original work.

While copyright automatically receives protection upon creation, there is a difference between creating copyright and proving its existence when facing infringement allegations.  This is why the copyright symbol often appears on certain works in conjunction with the author’s name, and the date of creation.

Copyright is infringed if copyright material, or a substantial part of it, is used or reproduced without permission. If copyright has been infringed, the copyright owner is entitled to commence an action in court and various remedies may be awarded. Time limits apply.

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