4.1 What is copyright? Why do we need it?
Copyright protects what writers, artists, photographers and musicians have created. These creations are called their intellectual property. The creator of any original work owns the copyright of that work, which is the exclusive right to authorise copying and communication of their work. We need copyright for a number of reasons:
- Australian law recognises that individuals have the right to make money from the sale of copies of their work.
- Copyright also protects creative works from being used without the copyright owner's agreement.
Copyright protection is free and automatic, but it is advisable to use the copyright symbol on work you create: eg © Toby Wright 2006
Consider these situations
Yes, it is automatically protected by copyright because it is your original design. You do not have to register your copyright in Australia. Copyright protection is free and automatic. It is recommended that you put a copyright notice on your work so that you are identified as the copyright owner, for example: Copyright Jane Smith 2006 or © Jane Smith 2006.
If the part is instantly recognisable as that person's work then you must get permission from them no matter how small a part of their work it is. However, if it is more than 70 years after the designer's death it is usually safe to use their work without the permission of their publisher or estate.
Sometimes you will need to pay. Make sure you always get an answer in writing. Very often the copyright owner will thank you for asking permission and will not charge you a fee. Check the copyright organisation links in this module for further information. See also information on fair dealing later in this module.
Yes, your web page is protected by copyright because you are the creator of an original work. The same applies to your assignments, songs, computer games and artworks. You created them and you own copyright in them. You have the right to control their use and to receive money for any copies that are made.
No. Copyright does not protect ideas. It only protects the expression of ideas in some format eg visual (written word, photograph, artwork, film) or audible (music, spoken word). If you think you have come up with an idea or invention that should be protected, then you may wish to apply for a patent which will cost you money. You may also wish to pay to register any design you create that has commercial or industrial applications with IP Australia which protects intellectual property.
Work through each step in the module:
- 4.1 What is copyright? Why do we need it?
- 4.2 What is the Copyright Act?
- 4.3 Why is it important to respect intellectual property?
- 4.4 How does copyright work in a digital environment?
- 4.5 How is copyright related to music, screen content and images found in digital media and on the internet?