Useful copyright resources

You can find and download all the information sheets referred to on this page from the Australian Copyright Council's A to Z list of information sheets.

The law

You can find the current version of the Copyright Act 1968 (Commonwealth) on the Australasian Legal Information Institute website.

The current version of the Copyright Act includes all changes made by amending legislation, such as the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000, the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000, the relevant parts of the US Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 2004, and the Copyright Amendment Act 2006. There is generally no need to look at any of these amending acts.

For an overview of the Copyright Act see the copyright page on the Attorney-General's Department website.

For a summary of moral rights see the Australian Copyright Council's Moral rights information sheet.

Exceptions that allow copying without permission

The Australian Copyright Council information sheet Fair dealing includes advice on exceptions which allow copying, under certain conditions, for research, study, criticism, review, parody, satire, reporting news or legal advice.

The Australian Copyright Council information sheet Research or study gives advice on the exception which allows copying, under certain conditions, for research or study, including the 'ten per cent' rule and what is considered 'fair'.

The Australian Copyright Council information sheet Quotes and extracts: copyright obligations provides advice on using quotes and extracts for purposes ranging from research or study to publication.

Section 52 of the Copyright Act allows some old unpublished material held in library collections to be copied with a view to publication provided that:

  • the author has been dead for more than 50 years;
  • the identity of the copyright owner is unknown; and
  • a notice is placed in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette two to three months prior to the publication of the work.

See Regulation 5 of the Copyright Regulations 1969 (Commonwealth) for requirements which must be included in the government gazette notice.

Duration of copyright

The Australian Copyright Councill information sheet Duration of copyright will help you work out whether copyright has expired, and includes a table listing duration of copyright by format.

Copyright in specific types of works

The Australian Copyright Council's information sheet Artists & copyright includes a list of formats which fall within the Copyright Act's 'artistic works' category.

For copyright in maps, see the Australian Copyright Council's information sheet Maps and charts.

The Australian Copyright Council also has several information sheets on music (see 'M' in their A to Z list of information sheets).

Collecting societies & other ways to find copyright owners

Through Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) you can pay for a licence to copy certain books, articles, essays and artwork.

Through Viscopy you can pay for a licence to copy the works of some Australian artists, craftspeople and photographers.

Through the Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA and AMCOS) you can pay for a licence to copy, perform or broadcast certain music.

Through Screenrights, educational institutions and government agencies can pay for a licence to copy or broadcast certain film, television and radio productions.

Through the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) you can pay for a licence to broadcast some recorded music or perform it in public.

Through the Australian Publishers Association website you can find links to the homepages for around 185 Australian publishers.

On the Publishers Global website you can find publishers listed by country. It has links to publishers in around 55 countries, including links to around 420 Australian publishers.

The Firms Out of Business (FOB) database lists some of the international publishing firms, magazines, literary agencies and similar organisations that are no longer in existence.

The Australian Society of Authors has a list of Australian authors with links to their individual web pages.

The WATCH database is a useful source for contact details of international writers.

The Australian Copyright Council has an information sheet on ways to contact government agencies to get permission to copy their material.

Organisations with expertise in copyright & other intellectual property rights