Guest Post, 5 Things To Know About Copyright

If you’ve ever wondered about your rights when it comes to copyright then todays guest post is for you. We invited Melanie from Wilde Legal to share some insight about copyright. Wilde legal is a boutique litigation and corporate law firm with a focus on Intellectual property.

5 Things To Know About Copyright

Copyright protects the original artists, dramatic, musical and literary works. 

That is, original  art works, performances, songs and any original writing including drawings, sketches, poems, novels and tweets.

Copyright lasts the lifetime of the author plus 70 years after their death. 

This used to be 50 years, but in 2005 Australia extended the time period for protection as part of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

And not a moment too soon!

Walt Disney died on 15 December 1966, so Mickey Mouse was about to be fair game.

If a copyright work is created by an author pursuant to an employment agreement, ownership of the copyright usually belongs to the employer. 

If they pay you to create stuff, they get to own it.

The owner has exclusive rights to publish, communicate, perform, adapt and reproduce the copyright works. 

These are known as the “copyright acts”

Copyright infringement is where someone else, without licence from the owner, commits one of the “copyright acts”.

This includes reproducing a substaintial part of the original work.

There was a nasty rumore years ago that if you only “copied” or “borrowed” 10 percent of a work, it was OK. This is just not true.

In the case of Barrett Property Group Pty Ltd v Dennis Family Homes Pty Ltd (2011) FCA 246, the court found that the defendant had infringed by copying part of a house design.

The “alfresco Quadrant” of the applicant’s design, that is the rumpus room, family room, kitchen and the meals areas around a convered alfresco courtyeard was found to have be qualtatively and quantatively significant and they by copying just this part of the design, they had infringed copyright.

A similar case is the Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd v EMI Songs Australia Pty Limited (2010) FCA 29 where the flute riff of the Men at Work song Down Under, reproduced the tune from Kookaburra Sits in an Old Gum Tree. This was found to be an infringement, even though the rest of the Down Under song was completely different.

What do you think?
Our rule of thumb is that if a copyrighted work is special enough for someone to want to copy to – its special enough to protect.

Melanie Wilde, Wilde Legal Newcastle

Check out the Wilde Legal website  or You Tube for their shenanigan videos to learn more about the law. Wilde legal has also launched a Great Brands of Newcastle Campaign to help local Newcastle brands understand and apply to protect their logo through trademarking.