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Copyright: An overview

Provides an overview on how Copyright applies in higher education, including Creative Commons and Open Access.

What is Copyright?

A simple definition of copyright is that it is a group of rights in certain creative works such as text, artistic works, music, computer programs, sound recordings and films. 

The rights are granted exclusively to the copyright owner to reproduce the material, and for some material, the right to perform or show the work to the public. Copyright owners can prevent others from reproducing or communicating their work without their permission or may sell these rights to someone else.

Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, styles or techniques. For example, copyright will not protect an idea for a film or book, but it will protect a script for the film or even a storyboard for the film.

Copyright is a separate right to the property right in an object. For example, this means that the person may own a book or painting but will not also own the copyright in the book or painting unless it has been specifically assigned to them.

In Australia, copyright protection is automatic. There is no need for copyright registration in Australia, nor is there a legal requirement to publish the work or to put a copyright notice on it. A work will be protected as soon as it is put into material form, such as being written down or recorded in some way (filmed or recorded).

What is the New Statutory Licence?

The existing educational statutory licences in Parts VA and VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) were replaced by one simplified statutory licence (New Statutory Licence).

The New Statutory Licence provides flexibility over what can be negotiated and agreed with Collecting Societies in relation to copying and communications. This includes the copying and communication limits for works.