Ownership And Duration Of Copyright Law

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Question :


Write a report on ownership and duration of copyright law in australia.

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Answer :

Introduction and Overview

Copyright is the non-tangible form or way through which an information or idea is expressed. Copyright is an amalgamation of a bunch of exclusive economic rights that enables the right to do certain acts with an original work or a work which is subjected to be a matter of copyright. Copyright creators also enjoys many non economic rights which are famously known as moral rights which has been originated from the French term  droit moral. In this paper the issue of ownership of copyright and the validity of the copyright have been analyzed in great detail. 

1.Ownership of copyright

In Australia moral rights are recognized as the integrity of authorship. Right of attribution automatically enables the right against any kind of false attribution of the original authorship.

Copyright is a part of the huge arena of law that is popularly recognized as “intellectual property” (Joyce, Ochoa,Carroll, Leaffer & Jaszi, 2016).


Ownership of copyright is generally owned by the creator or the author. The author of any dramatic, literary works and the creator of any musical or artistic works have the right over their production in order to avoid any further violation of their produced works by any third party.

In case of any film or music album the producer or maker of the artistic piece owns the rights of copyrights (Hirtle, 2015). The broadcaster for any particular broadcast and the publisher of any publication also enjoy the ownership of the copyright. In case of the business organizations, if any business organization creates a material like a newsletter, designs or drawings and any specific logo, then the business organization claim the copyright of the production (Newman, 2013). The owner of the copyright enjoys to afford the protection against other people and can have legal rights over their work. This indicates that they can take legal steps against any kind of violations occurred to their original work. The owner of the copyright has the legal right to protect their creations from any possible infringement of copyright in certain circumstances.  

Generally, the copyright law does not protect ideas, styles, concepts and techniques.

Several aspects of owning the Copyright

  • Co owning the copyright: In case of the home building plans, if anyone wants to use a plan as constructed in the brochure in order to base the plan of one’s house over the design under consideration then the permission of the copyright owner is necessarily needed. Under the copyright legislation, one can be the co owner if the copyright the ownership of the ‘underlying rights’ (Bartow, 2013).
  • Licensing, selling or passing on of copyright: according to the copyright act the copyright can be dealt as the personal property. It is possible to assign the copyright as well as it is subjected to be licensed, sold, passed or left by will as per the bankruptcy or the intestacy laws (Sutherland-Smith, 2016). One need to have an agreement in order to govern the process of transferring the rights of copyright in order to clarify the rights and obligations of everyone.

Australian copyright laws and regulation

  • Copyright act 1968

The existence of copyright over the subject-matter of any creation because of the copyright act 1968. The only possible exception to the Copyright act is related to a few specific limited prerogative rights of the Crown in respect to the copyright in the Parliamentary Acts of the country.

  • Regulations implemented by the act

Matters related to the operation of the Copyright act are specified by the Copyright Regulations of 1969, the Tribunal or Procedure Regulations of 1969 and the Copyright Regulations or the International Protection Regulations of 1969.

These Copyright acts and regulations are subject to the change and are amended accordingly time to time. These acts and regulations are reviewed constantly and the access to the electronic versions of the Commonwealth legislation can be availed through the  legal information retrieval system of the Attorney general’s Department which is known as ComLaw (Samuelson, 2016). The works that are to be protected by the Copyright Act need to be original and produced from the creator’s own intellectual effort. It is important to scrutinize the originality of the wiek before implementing copyright over the work as the work needs not to be copied from the work of some other person. 

Exceptions of the general rule

It is important to note the general exceptions of the general rule:

  • If a dramatic, literary, musical or artistic work is created in the duration of the author’s employment then in this case the employer owns the copyright as it is mentioned against the section 35(6).
  • In case of the author being a journalist working under any particular magazine or newspaper, the journalist has the rights over his work for the purposes of including his works in a book or owns the right to photocopy but the employer owns every other rights as per the section 35(4).
  • When the photographs have been taken for a private or personal purpose of the photographer and the portraits, engravings films and sound recordings are commissioned then commissioner of the work owns the copyright as per the sections 35(5), 97(3), 98(3). However, in all other cases the author owns the copyright.
  • Government created materials or materials created under the directions of the government or published by the government, according to the sections 176-178 are owned by the government (Balganesh, 2016). 

Another important aspect of the Copyright act is that the general rules and exceptions of the copyright act are subject to change by implementation of any agreement or assignment according to the sections 35(3),97(3),98(3),179. For example if a person commissioning a domestic or private photograph can sign an agreement that the photographer owns the copyright. The ownership of copyright is also applicable in case of writing and it is important to check the ownership in each of the particular case.

The copyright law also recognizes and acknowledges the possibility of the work being made by more than one person. These are considered as the joint ventures and on such cases, copyright is jointly owned. If different authors contribute to separate sections then they are not considered joint authors but each of the authors can own the copyright in their contribution.

2.Duration of copyright


As per the Copyrights Act of Australia is concerned, if one production or item includes a number of underlying works  and other subject matters protected under the act of copyright than it is important to check the validity of copyright for each of item. Duration of the copyright refers to the time  period that indicates the validity of a particular copyright. Of anyone intends to copy any item which is already a subject to copyright then it is necessary for the person to check if the work is under the validity duration of the copyright act or not. The period of copyright protection for copyrighted material was extended on January 1 2005 and it is mainly considered as the outcome of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (McKeown, 2016). However it is important to note that no revival of the already expired copyright before 1st January, 205 was found.

Changing the rules of Duration

As a result of the AUSFTA changes it has been difficult to identify if the copyright of a particular item has been expired or not. This complication is faced due to the requirement of AUSFTA which suggested that both of the countries need to set a minimum period of copyright protection. As per the rules prior to 1 January, 2005, the copyright supposedly lasted for fifty years and the time period was counted since the end of the year of death of the creator. In some cases the time duration was measured as 50 years from the end of the year in which the material had been published (Bramati, Palestini & Rota, 2016). In most of the cases this time period was extended to 70 years from 50 years.

  • If the copyright expired before 1 January. 205, it was not revived even though it had been less than 70 years.
  • As the result of Australia’s obligation under the AUSTFA the duration of copyright in cases of photographs was extended significantly (Samuelson, 2016). This protection act of copyright is applicable to the photographs along with all types of artistic works and as per the implementation of 1 January, 2005 the copyright is supposed to last 70 years from the end of the year in which the photographer passed away.
  • As far as the government-owned copyrights, broadcasts or the published editions are concerned no significant changes were done.

Expiry of the copyright the Previous rules and Current rules

As per the following pre-AUSTFA rules, if the copyright expired before 1 January, 205 then the materials which had been subject to the copyright remains open to the public domain and can be used freely by anyone.

  • Particularly for the case of unpublished literary, music or dramatic works the copyright would not expire.
  • For published dramatic,literary and musical works of the materials had been published posthumously or anonymously or under any kind of pen name or pseudonym then the validity is to be remained from the end of the year of last publication.
  • For artistic works, photographs and engravings the the duration remains the same as applicable for the literary works.
  • The duration of the copyright for any kind of broadcast had been set to be 50 years from the ending period of the year in which the broadcasting had been made (Hirtle, 2015). The AUSTFA necessarily did not revised the rule in this case.
  • In case of a published edition the applicable duration of the copyright has been 25 years from the end of the year in which the material was first published and in this case also no necessary changes were made because of AUSTFA (Samuelson, 2016).
  • In case of the Government owned copyright, if the copyright owner happens to be Commonwealth or a State Territory government, then one of the mentioned governments can own the copyright although of an agreement with the maker or creator of the material indicates few changes in the applicable validity period of the copyright.

Aftermath of the expiry of the copyright

Evidently the expiry of the validity period of the copyright indicates that anyone can freely use the information and material that had been subject to the Copyright Acts and the permission is no longer necessary. In the case of payment, of anyone is paying in order to use the materials under copyright then after the end of the validity period no payment is required as the materials remain open to be used tn the public domain. The copyright law does not remain significant in such cases though it is important to note that other laws can be relevant in association with the infringement of the trademark or logo or any such material (Hirtle, 2015).

It is important to understand the significance of the Copyright Act of Australia in reference to republishing any already published work. Once the copyright has been expired, the copyright validation can not be revived by republishing the same article once again (Samuelson, 2016). Copyright can only be renewed and extended if any kind of revision or amendments take place by the parliament. If any publisher publishes an edition of a work which belongs to the public domain then the publisher can own the copyright in the typographical order which that particular edition contains. It helps the publisher to prevent other publishers from publishing an exact copy of that particular edition. However, it is true that anyone can still reproduce each part of the published edition.


In the light of the above study it is evident in order to hinder the violation of the original work the importance of copyright is significant. In order to apply the copyright rules and regulation understanding the complexities associated with the ownership of the copyright is significant and applying the regulations demands a greater knowledge of the validity of the copyright for each domain.