The Library website, catalogue and guides will be temporarily unavailable from 8pm AEDT on Wednesday 28 February due to planned maintenance. We expect all sites to be back online on 29 February. We appreciate your patience.

Home > Help > Copyright & legal deposit > Understanding copyright > Glossary & useful resources

Glossary & useful resources


  • Copying
    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    Examples from the Library's collection include unpublished works and rare books.
  • Re-use
    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  • Unpublished works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.

The law

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

Organisations with expertise in copyright and other intellectual property rights