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

Published

Download PDF (259.15 KB) Download DOC (761.3 KB)
From 1 January 2019, new standard terms of copyright protection will apply to original published and unpublished works, sound recordings and cinematograph films.

Government use of copyright material

Published

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

Published

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

Copyright Copyright
New legislation introduced today will ensure our copyright laws are up to date and fit for purpose in the digital age.
Copyright Copyright
A Bill was introduced in Parliament today to extend safe harbour provisions in the Copyright Act 1968.
Copyright Copyright
From 1 January 2019, new copyright terms will apply works, sound recordings and films, dependent upon whether the material has...
Copyright Copyright
We have released the results of the 2017 online copyright infringement survey, showing Australians are embracing streaming...

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 particular overseas websites which breach copyright.

Further consultation on 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 Bill has been referred to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications for report by 19 March 2018.

Marrakesh Treaty Options for Implementation

This treaty will 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.

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).

Logo: Australian Government, IP Australia

IP Australia

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