Glossary & useful resources
The act of copying on a photocopier or scanner, taking a digital camera shot, downloading from the internet or the Library making a copy for you.
- Public domain works
Works where copyright has expired.
- Published works
Works of which reproductions have been supplied to the public, such as books, newspapers, magazines, most maps, commercially made music CDs, television broadcasts.
- Rare and unique works
Examples from the Library's collection include unpublished works and rare books.
Using a copyrighted work in a print or web publication or website, in a performance, adaptation, broadcast, exhibition, screening and even making a translation of a work.
- Unpublished works
Works of which reproductions have not been supplied to the public. For example, archival material including diaries, letters and the records of businesses and organisations.
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.
You can find the current version of the Copyright Act 1968 (Commonwealth) on the Federal Register of Legislation 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, the Copyright Amendment Act 2006, the Copyright Amendment (Disability and Other Measures) Act 2017, the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 1 and Other Measures) Act 2018 and the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2018. There is generally no need to look at any of these amending acts.
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 has an excellent website that provides a range of information sheets including:
- Fair dealing – includes advice on exceptions which allow copying, under certain conditions, for research, study, criticism, review, parody, satire, reporting news or legal advice
- Research or study – gives advice on the exception which allows copying, under certain conditions, for research or study, including the '10 per cent' rule and what is considered 'fair
- 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
- a notice is placed in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette two to three months prior to the publication of the work
See Regulation 7 of the Copyright Regulations 2017 (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 and other ways to find copyright owners
- Copyright Agency (CA) – pay for a licence to copy certain books, articles, essays and artwork
- Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA and AMCOS) – pay for a licence to copy, perform or broadcast certain music
- Screenrights – educational institutions and government agencies can pay for a licence to copy or broadcast certain film, television and radio productions
- Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) – pay for a licence to broadcast some recorded music or perform it in public
- Australian Publishers Association – find links to around 185 Australian publishers
- Publishers Global – find publishers listed by country. It has links to publishers in around 55 countries, including links to around 420 Australian publishers.
- Firms Out of Business (FOB) – find some of the international publishing firms, magazines, literary agencies and similar organisations that are no longer in existence
- Writers Artists and Their Copyright Holders (WATCH) – find contact details of international writers
- Australian Society of Authors – find Australian authors with links to their individual web pages
- Australian Cartoonists' Association – find a list of full members, many with links to their contact details
- Australian Copyright Council – view the information sheet 'Government: Commonwealth, State & Territory, December 2015' for ways to contact government agencies to get permission to copy their material
Organisations with expertise in copyright and other intellectual property rights
- Arts Law Centre of Australia
- Attorney General's Department
- Australian Copyright Council
- Australian Digital Alliance
- Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC)
- Centre for Media and Communications Law, University of Melbourne
- Creative Commons Australia
- IP Australia
- Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia
- Resale Royalty Rights