Australia/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

The Copyright Act 1968

The Copyright Act 1968 has undergone significant revisions since it was first enacted, modelled upon British copyright law.  The original intention of the Act was, as stated by the government committee which recommended its establishment, ‘…to give to the author of a creative work his [sic] just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works’.  In so doing, the Copyright Act also allows for ‘fair dealing’ by which a certain amount of material may be copied without infringement, most notably within the education sectors.

Under the Australian legislation protection is provided to music, moving images and films, recorded sounds, literature and writing, computer programs, choreography, craftworks, design, but not to ideas and concepts themselves. Nor is group ownership or stewardship recognised.

The Copyright Amendment Act 2006 introduced new provisions permitted under private copying which allow for recording of television or radio programs for later private listening/viewing; for recording of one’s own sound recording for private purposes; and for copying of privately-owned material from one format to another – for example, scanning of a book or photograph.  Other amendments were introduced for collecting institutions, described as ‘key cultural institutions’, to make preservation copies of material.

In 2005, as part of amendments to the Copyright Act arising from the Australia–US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) performers’ rights were established for Australian citizens/residents who contributed to the creation or conducting of a performance.  This applies to stage work, musical performance, dance, poetry, circus performance, book readings, and dance.  In the terms of the Act, permissions are required from performers for recording, broadcast, or distribution of performances.  

 The Act is administered by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, which receives advice and information from the Copyright Council of Australia.

Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000

 The right of the artist to be attributed as the maker of the artwork, and to have the integrity of the artwork protected, was finally enshrined in legislation in Australia with the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000, after more than a decade of debate and consideration of the issue.  In 1988 the Copyright Law Review Committee had recommended against introducing legislation at that time, despite the fact that the Berne Convention, to which Australia was a signatory, had enshrined such rights.  Provisions of the Act were contested by a range of parties, from film-makers to architects and designers, leading to significant modifications prior to enactment.  The Australian legislation does not require an artist to assert their moral rights; rather, they are conferred automatically once the work is created.  For the legislation see

At the same time as the moral rights legislation was under preparation, a separate bill, the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 2000 was prepared by the Commonwealth, dealing with liabilities for moral rights infringement by internet service providers.  The Bill became an Act in 2000.

The Trade Marks Act 1995 governs the use of trade marks in Australia and enables the owner of a trade mark to stop another person from using the same or similar trade mark within Australia.  Registered trademarks are submitted under the Act and provides an exclusive right to use the mark.  For further details of Australia’s trade mark regime see

Chapter published: 27-12-2013