Copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself.

Copyright rights protect Works such as literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works. Computer programs are considered a literary work under the Copyright Act.  Depending on the Work, copyright rights can be infringed by reproduction, publishing the works, offering infringing goods for sale, making an adaptation and communicating the Work to the public. There are many defences which apply to copyright rights infringement, including independent creation.

Within Australia there is no mechanism to register copyright right and the rights are created automatically with the creation of the work.

In our experience the types of copyright rights infringements we see include software programs (both source code and object code), business development agreements, marketing material (particularly from competitors websites), images and photographs and educational material. The usual scenarios we encounter are employees taking material as they leave employment, employees accessing and copying material whilst still employed and competitors taking material from the internet.

Infringers do not always use copyrighted material for economic gain.

The usual remedies available to a rights holder includes (at their election) damages or an account of profits, injunctions and appropriate delivery up orders. If you elect to be compensated by way of damages, it may also be possible to obtain additional damages but you cannot claim both account of profits and additional damages.

If you believe someone has taken your works, contact us for a free confidential discussion.


  • Do I have to register my copyright?

    Within Australia copyright is not registrable. The rights are created on creation of the work. However, to enforce your trade mark rights overseas, you may need to register the rights in that country before enforcing the rights.

  • I can’t find the owner of a work, can I still use it?

    A work where the author cannot be found is known as an orphaned work. Use of an orphaned work may constitute infringement if an exception to infringement cannot be found.

  • How long do copyright rights last?

    The answer depends on the type of work, when it was created, whether it was published and whether the author of the work is still alive (and if not when they passed away).

  • If I just take 10% of a work can I still infringe copyright rights in the work?

    The answer depends on the use of the work, but that exception to infringement only applies to one type of use. Copyright is infringed when a person, without authorisation, does an act comprised in copyright rights (such as reproduction) and no defences or exceptions apply. The test is whether a substantial part of the work has been taken and it is based on quality not quantity of what is taken. Therefore a person can take only 2% of a work and still be found to infringe that work.