The Australian law of copyright is a very interesting topic.
It has changed over time, along with the Australian government. Nowadays, it isclose to other country’s copyright regarding laws and is very complex, withmany case-to-case decisions needed to be made.Over time, Australian copyright law had been greatly adaptedto fit British and International copyright law. The first form of copyrightthat the British had created was the Statue of Anne, 1709, which gave some weakprotection to authors. Until British copyright law had been brought toAustralia, 1928, it started protecting sculptures and engravings.
Over time, itevolved, adding speeches, paintings, and photographs. Long before British lawhad been adapted, some colonies (later called states) had their own type ofcopyright law which could vary from colony to colony. The very first copyrightstatue was passed in a colony in Victoria, Australia.
“The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution,have powerto make laws for the peace, order, and good government of theCommonwealth with respect to, inter alia,copyright, patents of inventions and designs, andtrademarks” -Commonwealth Constitution, section 51After Australia joined the Commonwealth, the Commonwealthconstitution allowed the Parliament to make laws for order, peace, and goodgovernment. As the Australian constitution gave that power to the Parliamenttoo, immediate changes had been made. From then on, copyright law and allrelated things no longer were the business of the states, but the federalparliament. The first copyright statue that evolved in the hands of the federalparliament, was the Copyright Act 1905, an adapted version of British law.
Australia fully became part of British copyright law, when adopting the BritishCopyright law, 1911, in 1912. This act stayed in force, until 1969, when theAustralian Copyright Act 1968 came into force. The Copyright Act 1968 wascreated after the 1911 Act was reviewed and apparently not fulfilling theBrussels Act of the Berne Convention. Until now, the 1968 Act is in force,however, some amendments had been made.
Australian law protects literary works, musical works, films,artistic works, broadcast, dramatic works, sound recordings, and publishededitions. Before 2004, the work entered public domain 50 years after death,however, after 2006, the works stayed out of public domain until 70 years afterdeath. In Australia, copyright does not apply to works published before May,1969.
According to the 1968 Act, any work published after the author’s deathwill come to public domain not 70 years after the author’s death, but 70 yearsafter the publication. Unpublished literary, dramatic, and musical works holdindefinite copyright protection.The main copyright exception in Australia is fair dealing(not to misunderstand as fair use), which allow usage of copyrighted works thatfall into range of purposes. Each type of work varies, but some possibilitiesare research, study, news-reporting, review, criticism, judicial proceedings,or professional legal advice.
Some other exceptions fall under private copying.From 2006 on, recording broadcast to watch or listen to later, to make copiesof audio recordings for domestic and private use, or to copy a newspaper,magazine, or literary work for private use.In Australia, a copyright notice does not have to be on awork for copyright to apply. However, it is recommended to add the date offirst publication and owner. Copyrights can also be owned by the crown inAustralia, however, they only last for 50 years after creation or publication.
The exception are unpublished literary, dramatic, and musical works, which holdcopyright indefinitely.Australian copyright has changed over years, from the veryfirst statue protecting authors, to the Copyright Amendment Act 2017 has becomeeffective. It has evolved in a way like no other, and is definitely interestingwith its complexity.