We are responsible for managing the Copyright Act 1968 and the Circuit Layouts Act 1989. We also work on copyright policy in Australia, and international copyright issues.

We are also the lead agency for whole-of-government issues on the management of IP.

Copyright provides legal protection for people who express ideas and information in certain forms. The most common forms are writing, visual images, music and moving images.

Copyright protection is free and automatic in Australia. There is no registration system.

Some websites offer copyright protection or to 'register' copyright for a fee. These websites have no authority to guarantee copyright protection.

'Intellectual property' (IP) is a phrase used to describe the rights creators use to protect their work. The following types of work contain IP: inventions, literary and artistic works, computer programs, databases, broadcasts, films, sound recordings, plant varieties, trademarks and designs.

More information about copyright can be found in our Short guide to copyright.

Copyright policy

Duration of copyright

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Table setting out the new copyright terms that will apply from 1 January 2019 under the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 2017.

Government use of copyright material

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The Copyright Act 1968 sets out a government use statutory licence. Under this licence, the Australian Government is allowed to use whatever copyright material it needs, for official purposes

Marrakesh Treaty for people with print disability

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Australia was among the first 20 countries to join the Marrakesh Treaty, which came into force on 30 September 2016. The Treaty is an international agreement that will help an estimated 285 million people worldwide have greater access to books published in accessible formats such as large print, braille or audio.

What's new

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Copyright duration

Copyright is granted for a limited term of protection. The duration of the copyright term depends on the type of material and a number of other factors. Once copyright has expired, the material is commonly referred to as being in the public domain.

From 1 January 2019, new standard terms of copyright protections will apply. Rights holders of old unpublished copyright material should consider whether they need to take action to maintain copyright protection.

Issues, reforms and reviews

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 allows copyright owners to apply to the Federal Court to order internet service providers to block access to an online location operated Australia with the primary purpose of infringing (or facilitating infringement of) copyright content. In February 2018, the Department began reviewing the operation of the Online Infringement Amendment.

Copyright safe harbour legislation

In May 2017 the Australian Government undertook further consultation with stakeholders on the extension of the safe harbour provisions in the Copyright Act 1968.

On 6 December 2017 the Government introduced the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill into Parliament. The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications reviewed the Bill and its final report, released on 19 March 2018, supported passage of the Bill. The Australian Government tabled its response to the report on 9 May 2018.

On 27 June the Bill passed the Parliament, and the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 29 June. The provisions will come into effect on 29 December 2018.

Marrakesh Treaty Implementation

The Marrakesh treaty aims to give people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled greater access to works published in accessible formats, such as print, braille and audio.

On 22 December 2017, amendments under the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 2017 came into effect which simplify the exceptions that allow people with a disability, and those organisations assisting them, to make accessible copies of copyright material. These new exceptions apply to all forms of copyright material, including works, sound recordings, films and television and sound broadcasts. The Department continues to work on improvements in this area by participating in the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative, which is an industry initiative that aims to make 'inclusive by design' works a reality for Australian readers with a print disability.

Collecting societies

The aim of Copyright collecting societies is to ensure that Australians are rewarded for their creativity. Collecting societies are non-governmental groups which manage the rights of copyright owners.

Collecting societies negotiate licences with individuals and government, and receive payments, which they pass onto copyright owners.

The main collecting societies in Australia are:

Music

The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) are not-for-profit organisations which collect payments for people who create sounds.

We do not manage a whole-of-government agreement with these organisations, but below, you can access an example of an individual government agency agreement with APRA. This agreement can be used as a model for other agencies that use lyrics or publically perform musical works:

  • APRA AGD model agreement
  • APRA AGD information sheet.

Copies of these documents can be obtained by copyright [at] communications.gov.au (subject: APRA%20AGD%20model%20agreement%20and%20information%20sheet) (contacting us).

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IP Australia

IP Australia has information on IP issues such as inventions and patents, trademarks, plant breeder’s rights, and original designs.