Do you a run a business and express ideas or information in your own unique way? You should understand if your work is protected under the Copyright Act 1968 (the Copyright Act).


What is copyright?

Copyright is a free, automatic type of intellectual property (IP) in Australia that protects original works. Copyright provides legal protection for ideas and information including:

  • writing
  • visual images
  • broadcasts
  • music
  • computer programs.

Copyright provides protection so work can’t be:

  • copied
  • published
  • communicated (broadcast, placed as online content etc.)
  • publicly performed.

In Australia, copyright protection is provided under the Copyright Act . It’s designed to prevent the unauthorised use of your original work.

Copyright is also valid in other countries that are party to international copyright treaties.

What does copyright protect?

The Copyright Act protects original works, for example:

  • literary works, including books and magazines
  • dramatic and musical works
  • artistic works such as paintings, photographs, sculptures and drawings.

How do I know if my work is ‘original’?

Your work will be considered original if it is the product of your own intellectual effort and you haven’t copied another person’s work. For example: The author of a math textbook didn’t invent algebra, but they can still have copyright on the book because they’ve explained the subject in a unique and creative way.

Do I need to register for copyright?

Copyright protection is free and granted automatically from the time an original work is created.

Unlike formal Intellectual Property (IP) rights, you do not need to register for copyright protection in Australia, or any other country which is a party to the international copyright treaty.

Registration of formal IP rights, like trademarks, patents, designs and plant breeders rights is done through IP Australia .

How do I protect and enforce my copyright ?

There is no formal way to protect your copyright, but using a copyright ‘C’ symbol on your original work may help alert people that the work is protected under copyright.

If you do notice someone breaching your copyright, there are a number of options you can take through the court system.

Check the Protecting your copyright guide for more information on how you can protect your copyright material.