Please read on.
Intellectual property rights including Copyright are starting to be extremely valuable for businesses, especially in the online space. It has been said that intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century. Unfortunately, there are some people out there that don’t have an original thought in their own head and would prefer to be lazy and copy others.
The Courts overall take a dim view of these types of individuals and businesses that copy others and commit copyright infringement.
Copyright is a type of intellectual property, that gives a bundle of exclusive rights to the copyright owner. For small business owners, this means that you are able to control and determine how your work may be used by others. Copyright protects only the form in which ideas and information are expressed, however not the ideas and information themselves.
Copyright’s scope of protection is provided by:
It is important for you to know that in Australia, copyright is free and automatic upon creation of the work. It therefore does not depend upon registration on an official register with IP Australia. Works and subject matter published before the current Copyright Act’s inception may also potentially be covered.
Ultimately, copyright protection is offered for:
In most instances copyright protection for works, subject matter and performances will arise when the person was a “qualified person” at the time the work or subject matter was made or published or the performance given.
In Copyright Law, a qualified person is someone who is:
Start-ups and business owners take note! For material to be eligible for copyright protection it has to first be published or made in Australia.
The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) also spells out the concept of “publication” in more detail depending on the format in which the work is reproduced to the public.
A person or entity that does not obtain permission or a licence from a copyright holder before using an original work, subject matter or performance, commits copyright infringement.
Too often we see businesses take shortcuts, don’t fall into this trap! Make sure you take the necessary precautions – let us help you.
What is direct copyright infringement?
Direct copyright infringement occurs when an individual or entity uses copyrighted material itself without permission.
What is indirect copyright infringement?
Indirect copyright infringement involves a further act in relation to the initial infringing act. For example:
Where possible, you should draft a copyright notice and place a label or symbol, i.e. © on your work to indicate your copyright in the materials. This makes you intent clear to others, that you are the author of the copyrighted work, subject matter or performance, and intend to enforce your rights accordingly.
Note: using derivative works and material that in itself infringes copyright may not be protected under copyright.
Copyright usually lasts for a term of life (i.e. this refers to author’s lifetime) plus 70 years. If the work was not published during the author’s lifetime, the copyright period commences from the publication date.
For subject matter other than works:
Here are some common examples of copyright infringement:
If you have found that someone is infringing your copyright, your first step should be to preserve the evidence and take screenshots of the offending material(s).
It’s also important not to engage with the person infringing your material(s). Getting into a lengthy argument is not going to assist you and your case. We highly recommend contacting a copyright infringement lawyer as soon as possible to assess your options for the content to be taken down.
An option could be to draft a copyright infringement notice (or cease & desist letter) to the person / entity who is infringing your copyright.
Many people ask us how they can avoid copyright infringement. Here are some ways you may be able to avoid copyright infringement:
You can respond to a copyright infringement notice in the following ways:
There are several consequences of copyright infringement. Under the Act, a court may grant a variety of remedies. These include:
Action must be taken within 6 years of the date the infringement took place.
The most flagrant and serious cases of copyright infringement may also attract criminal penalties, fines and imprisonment terms. Depending on whether the infringement concerns possession, sale, exhibition, or importation of copyrighted material, and whether this is on a “commercial” scale will also be taken into account by a Court.