28 March
Large copyright sign made of jigsaw puzzle pieces

Common myths about copyright – BUSTED!

1. I have to register my copyright


Copyright protection is automatic upon creation of the work as soon as it is expressed in material form (ie recorded somehow eg written down, saved on USB stick). In Australia it is not necessary to register your work for copyright to exist.

2. I have to put the copyright symbol on my work


 The presence or absence of the © copyright symbol does not affect the existence of copyright over a work. The copyright symbol is used to remind others that copyright exists and it’s a good idea to use it when you can, but it doesn’t provide protection itself.

3. If it’s unpublished there’s no copyright


It is not a requirement for copyright protection that the work be published. As long as your work is expressed in material form, you have copyright in it.

4. Copyright ends when I die


In Australia, copyright generally lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator. After that time, the work enters the public domain, meaning it is no longer protected by copyright and anyone can use it.

5. I can use someone else’s stuff as long as I credit them and don’t make any money from it

You guessed it – WRONG!

A copyright owner has the right to control how the work is used regardless of whether or not you make money from it or credit the creator. The copyright owner may grant you permission to use their work, but you have to ask first! And anyway, crediting the creator is a legal requirement, unless it is reasonable not to.


For a more detailed explanation about copyright and what it means for you make sure to check out our Copyright information sheet.


Written by Lee Elsdon, Arts Law Solicitor